Project MUSE U S Japan Women’s Journal

As philosophies transformed with time, women’s roles developed from the requirements of nurture and family care to gaining the power to make broader social contributions. James Raymo and Setsuya Fukudaconduct similar calculations for the 1980–2010 period, finding that much more of women’s labor force participation increase is accounted for by shifts in marital status and other demographic variables. It is important to note that, despite overtaking U.S. women, Japanese women still make up less than half of the prime-age Japanese labor force (44 percent in 2016; Japanese Labor Force Survey 2016).

  • Although Japanese women now participate in the labor force at a higher rate, their labor market experiences are often less rewarding than those of their American counterparts.
  • In 1969,twelve weeks of paid maternity leavewere guaranteed by the Japanese government; a series of reforms in 1992 and 1995 expanded this to one year of paid leave available to both parents.
  • These inequalities affect many aspects of individuals who do not identify with heterosexual marriage norms including social and legal discrimination in the work place, education, healthcare, and housing, with the legal discrimination stemming from the Koseki.
  • They continued to have nearly total responsibility for home and children and often justified their employment as an extension of their responsibilities for the care of their families.

Japan’s family dynamics have historically been defined by a two-person, female housewife or caregiver role and a male income-earner role, a historically common division of labor between the sexes. After Japan’s involvement in World War II ended, the resulting Japanese Constitution included Article 24, « the Gender Equality Clause, » which was introduced to steer the country towards gender equality. However, deeply-embedded family and gender norms led to resistance among citizens, and the culture remained largely the same as of 2009.

Another critique suggests the cars send the signal that men create a dangerous environment for women, who cannot protect themselves. Japanese and foreign women and girls have been victims of sex trafficking in Japan. They are raped in brothels and other locations and experience physical and psychological trauma. Japanese anti-sex trafficking legislation and laws have been criticized as being lacking. Of the 200,000 abortions performed per year, however, 10% are teenage women, a number which has risen since 1975. At 87 years, the life expectancy of Japanese women is the longest of any gender anywhere in the world. Notably, Tsuruko Haraguchi, the first woman in Japan to earn a PhD, did so in the US, as no Meiji-era institution would allow her to receive her doctorate.

Role of Women in Japan

Male heads of households with only daughters would adopt male heirs to succeed them, sometimes through arranged marriage to a daughter. Heads of households were responsible for house finances, but could delegate to another family member or retainer . Women in these households were typically subject to arranged marriages at the behest of the household’s patriarch, with more than half of all marriages in Japan being preemptively arranged until the 1960s. Married women marked themselves by blackening their teeth and shaving their eyebrows. Although women in Japan were recognized as having equal legal rights to men after World War II, economic conditions for women remain unbalanced. Modern policy initiatives to encourage motherhood and workplace participation have had mixed results. Kishida, who has promised to redistribute wealth to Japan’s struggling middle class, appointed just three women to his 20-member cabinet and opposes calls to allow married couples to use separate surnames and to legalise same-sex marriages.

Although Japanese women now participate in the labor force at a higher rate, their labor market experiences are often less rewarding than those of their American counterparts. Japan is not the only country that could benefit from tapping into women’s latent economic power. The McKinsey Global Institute has calculated that in China, an increase in women’s employment, hours and productivity could add 13 percent to its G.D.P. by 2025. The relative gains in India and Latin America could be even larger, because gender gaps are wider there. Over all, McKinsey estimates that a global drive toward gender equality — in work, government, society — could create $12 trillion in economic growth by 2025. 66.7% of legal frameworks that promote, enforce and monitor gender equality under the SDG indicator, with a focus on violence against women, are in place. In 2018, 3.9% of women aged years reported that they had been subject to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months.

The negative Buddhist depiction of women infiltrates the story of Genji as well as reflects the common marriage practices of the time. Out of 192 countries, Japan ranks 167th in women’s representation in government. Women make up only 9.9% of the lower house and 22.9% of the upper house in Japan’s national parliament.

In October 2017, The Hamilton Projectreleased a book of policy proposalsthat focus on this avenue for enhancing economic security. Improvements in child care, paid leave, and scheduling policies might make it more feasible for women in the United States to join the labor market. Tax policies could be rearranged so they do not reduce the marginal benefit of work to married women. An expansion of the earned income tax credit could improve the earnings of women with less education—increasing the incentive for them to be in the job market. This is evident in terms of the prevalence of part-time work, the share of women in leadership roles, and the gender wage gap.

In popular culture the toiling of salarymen to feed their families is often compared to the self-sacrifice of the samurai. So sexual entertainment is seen as a means of rejuvenating their productive powers. The women Ms Koch meets often take pride in repairing men’s mental wounds. In 2018, it was revealed that several university medical schools, Tokyo Medical University, Juntendo University, and Kitasato University, favored male applicants by using different passing marks for men and women. In Japan, the ratios of female doctors compared to male doctors are relatively low, and the overall numbers of them are only 21.1%.

In both countries, the age at first marriage has risen steadily since the early 2000s, contributing to a decline in the share of the prime-age population that is married. With Japanese women aged 25 to 54 less likely to be married in recent years, the prime-age women’s population now contains more people who traditionally have participated in the labor market at high rates, as shown in the left panel of figure 5. As Japan faced a rapidly aging population earlier than many other countries, it is sometimes seen as a window into other countries’ futures, when the population and workforce will eventually age to a similar extent as in Japan today. However, when it comes to labor market outcomes for women, this story is too simple.

Working women in Japan

But company bosses circumvented the legislation by inventing a two-track system with “career employees” , who could qualify for promotion, and “non-career employees” , who could not. Women had to choose their track when they were hired, but opting to be a “career employee” meant accepting long work hours and frequent relocation to provincial offices, like their male colleagues, making it hard to balance work and family life. For this calculation, we assumed that the additional labor force participants would have annual earnings equal to the mean annual earnings of prime-age female labor force participants in 2016. We further assumed that GDP increases proportionally with workers’ annual earnings, i.e., a doubling of aggregate earnings would induce a doubling of GDP. Even if the additional workers were lower on the earning spectrum, i.e. if doubling earnings did not fully double GDP, the increase in GDP would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ms. Fukushima said she had never experienced overt sexism in her work on the boards. But she said that she had been disappointed by Japanese companies’ slow progress in adding women to their leadership, especially given the abundance of good candidates. With women largely shut out of upper management in Japan, one of the primary paths to corporate boards has been through foreign companies. Believing the moment is ripe for change, Ms. Koshi and a co-worker, Kaoru Matsuzawa, this year started OnBoard, a firm aimed at training hundreds of women for board positions and seeking to match them with companies. TOKYO — When Naomi Koshi was elected in June to the board of one of Japan’s largest telecommunications companies, she became one of the few women in the country to reach the top of the corporate ladder. Naomi Koshi, a lawyer who serves on two corporate boards, said she first understood the inequality in Japan in 2000, when she graduated from college. Sir Kazuo’s first novel, “A Pale View of Hills”, borrows names and themes from “Sound of the Mountain”, playfully weaving them into his own narrative.

Similar to that in national politics, women’s representation in Japan’s local politics has seen a general upward trend since the 20th century, but still lags behind other developed countries. Of the 1,051 candidates, just 186 – or less than 18% – are women, despite the introduction in 2018 of a gender equality law encouraging parties to select similar numbers of male and female candidates. Only around 9 percent of middle managers in companies are women, and at senior management level the figure is much lower. Government figures show the pay gap between men and women has fallen from 40 percent in the 1990s to 24.5 percent in 2020 (compared to 16.5 percent in France). But this is due more to a drop in men’s pay over the last 20 years than a rise in women’s pay. And women often have precarious jobs (part-time, short-term, temporary, etc.) paying less than 55 percent of men’s average salary, a trend that is growing. In 1985 the Diet ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and adopted an equal employment opportunity law.