How gender inequality is hindering Japan’s

How gender inequality is hindering Japan’s Japan’s economy is under pressure from rising energy prices and defence costs and the impact of the pandemic. Plummeting birth rates and an ageing population further threaten the sustainability of its labour market. A 2023 study by independent thinktank the Recruit Works Institute points to a labour supply shortage of 3.41 million people by 2030, and over 11 million by 2040.

Gender inequality is another significant pressure point. Research shows that a gender-inclusive society and workforce leads to innovation and economic growth. However, Japan has one of the lowest levels of gender equality among G7 countries. It has slipped to its lowest ranking yet in the World Economic Health Forum’s latest Global Gender Report, particularly in terms of women in leadership positions.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently declared that Japan needs to urgently raise its birth rate. He also vowed to increase the percentage of women executives in Tokyo stock exchange-listed companies, from 11.4% to 30% or more, by 2030. A policy draft released in June indicates that this will be achieved through leadership quotas legally imposed on listed companies.

A woman office worker in an office setting.
Women face discrimination and restrictive policies in the workplace. Gbbot/Shutterstock
Japan has tried this countless times, however, and largely failed. As my research shows, this is because gender norms are deeply embedded in Japanese society.

Socialisation of gender norms

Gender norms in Japanese society are tightly connected to patriarchal hierarchies that have evolved historically from the Bahrain WhatsApp Number List influence of. The role of a man is linked to being the breadwinner and head of the family. Women, by contrast, are een as wives and caregivers, ultimately subservient to the head of the family.

Children are taught these norms from an early age. Research that Japanese preschool teachers children in various gender roles by encouraging gendered speech and behavioural patterns. Girls speak softly and act in a cute, non-threatening way. Boys, by contrast, use more dominant language and behaviour. Children’s books and TV programmes often perpetuate these hierarchical linguistic patterns and behaviour.

These beliefs and values influence hiring practices and organisational behaviour within the Japanese workplace, which is still based on the male-based breadwinner/female-dependent model.

Failed solutions

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Previous Japanese government initiatives to raise the birth rate and improve gender equality have focused on introducing quotas for female leadership and executive boards, more childcare places, and enhanced parental leave. However, these cphonenumber have either failed to reach their target or have becom. In fact, recent are reported to have exacerbated  gender inequality and driven some women into poverty.

Singapore recently embarked on a similar mission as part of a national gender equality review. Its government has gathered ideas and feedback from women’s and youth groups, private organisations, academics, policymakers and the wider public. This has n a policy wishlist and report, the findings of which will be implemented into both policy and education.

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