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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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Yesterday, 8 March, was International Women's Day. Here's a collection of articles and editorials relating to Japan.

The Economist magazine released its latest "glass-ceiling" index ahead of the International Women's Day on Monday. The magazine ranks 29 of the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development based on 10 indicators such as labor participation rates and gender pay gaps. Japan is in the 28th place due to the small number of women with decision-making power. The country has the lowest percentage of women in managerial positions and in parliament. South Korea is at the bottom of the rankings. The Economist says Japanese and South Korean societies still force women to choose family or career.

Glass ceiling index:

Comments belittling women by the erstwhile head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee Yoshiro Mori shone a revealing light on Japanese society's outmoded ways. A leader and his dusty old ways of thinking held sway over a nearly homogenous organization. The status quo was given primacy over boldness, and minority opinions were ignored or expunged. After Mori announced his resignation, ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai stated that he would have female LDP lawmakers sit in on meetings of the overwhelmingly male party executives. However, the proposal was roundly criticized for granting the women "observer status" only, and thus no right to make comments. Had officials adopted the perspective of making the most of a wide range of opinions in the LDP's management, then this kind of proposal would not have even be made. There are very few women in Japan's decision-making centers. Japan had a goal of having 30% of all senior management and leadership positions in the country filled by women by 2020, but this was not reached.

There is a silver lining on the horizon...

The Japan Business Federation said Monday it has appointed Tomoko Namba, founder and chairwoman of online service provider DeNA Co., as the first female vice chair in its 75-year history. But Namba will be the only woman to occupy one of the 20 vice chair posts in Japan's most powerful business lobby with the rest held by men, reflecting the country's male-dominated business circle that is lagging behind other countries in promoting gender equality. Namba, 58, will assume the post after the business body, also known as Keidanren, formally approves the appointment at an annual general meeting on June 1.

... but still a lot of skepticism in regard to achieving gender equality:

The online study conducted last month ahead of International Women's Day by Dentsu Institute, an organization of advertising giant Dentsu Group Inc., found that 64.6 percent of respondents feel men get preferential treatment in Japanese society, and 64.3 percent believe men are favored when it comes to "customs and traditions." This was followed by "the workplace" at 59.6 percent, "law and systems" at 46.8 percent and "portrayal in media" at 38.7 percent. While 78.4 percent of the total 3,000 men and women polled said they felt Japan should make more concerted efforts in advancing gender equality, many also felt its realization was far on the horizon. When asked to estimate how many years it would take for Japan to elect its first female prime minister, the average among responses was 27.9 years. The average time estimates for women to make up half of the parliament members and 30 percent of managerial positions in firms were 33.5 years and 24.7 years, respectively.

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