Five recent stories from the country that currently ranks 121 out of 153 countries in terms of gender equality, the lowest position among Group of Seven economies.
- Maybe in an 11th-hour effort to improve its ranking (the new global ranking are slated be announced this month), Japan recently announced two goals last month designed to rectify the low percentage of women in positions of power. Suga’s Cabinet will reportedly aim for a 35% quota for parliamentary candidates by 2025.
- In the business realm, the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) has officially set a goal of 30% of executives by 2030. Based on listed companies in 2019, it currently stands at 5.2%. Among the 100 leading companies listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the percentage of women in board-level positions stood at 12.9% as of July 2020, up 2.4% from last year. By the way, in 2003, Keidanren had set the goal of 30% for female executives by … 2020. Looks like that glass ceiling was a tough one.
- Eyebrows collectively shot up during a legislature session last month in which Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga dropped an unscripted response implying his support for revising a law that prevents married couples from using different surnames. The Civil Code currently requires married couples to have the same surname, although surveys in recent years have shown many in Japan are in favor of having the option of keeping their birth name even after marriage.
- Via an online petition campaign, a university student is taking the initiative to reduce body-shaming in YouTube advertisements. Aoi Murata says she is not against people dieting, using hair removal products or even having plastic surgery if that makes them happy. Her complaint is with advertisers who she says belittle people to sell their products.
- Last month, the Cabinet Office’s gender equality bureau announced that the number of consultations regarding sexual abuse and violence at support centers rose 15.5% from a year earlier to 23,050 in April-September. The most consultations were made in August, with 4,456, up 895 from the previous year. Support groups have voiced concern that virus-related curbs may also fuel domestic violence, as victims can be stuck at home with their abuser without the usual avenues of escape.