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Japan – Addressing the Gender Gap

Confronted with decades of economic stagnation, strict immigration controls, and a rapidly aging CRSpopulation, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has launched an ambitious plan—widely known as “Abenomics”—to restart Japan’s economy. The program has three main components: a large fiscal stimulus that was injected into the economy in early 2013; expansionary monetary policy that also began in 2013 and continues today; and a series of planned structural economic reforms, many of which have yet to be announced or implemented, that ostensibly will boost Japan’s productivity.

One of Abe’s planned structural reforms is a strategy to persuade more Japanese women to join the workforce, to remain in the workforce after they have children, and to advance higher on the career ladder. Japan’s gender gap is one of the largest among high-income countries, and some economists have argued for many years that narrowing this gap is a potential source of economic growth for Japan as well as a way to help offset the long-term demographic problems facing the country. Although some are optimistic that Abe’s government will be able to drive progress in the participation and advancement of women in Japan’s workforce, other observers believe that elements of Japanese culture, including office customs and traditional beliefs regarding gender roles, pose challenges for the success of the policy.

Japan’s Gender Gap

Japan lags behind many other high-income countries in terms of gender equality, particularly in the workforce. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2013, which measures and tracks gender-based disparities on a number of dimensions, such as labor force participation and compensation, Japan ranked 105th out of 135 countries, just below Cambodia and above Nigeria.1 In comparison, the United States ranked 23rd. Several low- and middle- income countries ranked above Japan, such as Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, China, India, Malaysia, and Russia. The only high-income countries ranked lower than Japan include South Korea and some countries in the Middle East.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  “Womenomics” in Japan: In Brief

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