Revolutionising Japan’s Businesses Through Women

By Alecsandra Tubiera


There will always be a call for more women in the workforce, and as times are changing, it is evident that women are now leading the top enterprises in the market. In Japan today, more women are getting employed, and this could mean a transformation for the country’s economy. However, not all of them is in full-time job, and women are still working hard in the climbing up the ladders of the corporate world.


Progressive gender equality in the workplace?

Japan’s population is continuously shrinking and ageing, and the country has decided to continue to grow its workforce despite the issue. Since the population’s peak in 2010 at 128 million, it has now decreased by 1.3 million people. Additionally, its population is made largely by the elderly: 28 percent are over 65, compared to 18 percent in the UK and 15 percent in the US.1

The country’s female employment rate has been a key contributor, as a higher proportion of women are also returning to work sooner after having children than they were previously in 2002. A government policy has aided this, by increasing the number of nursery places and making provision for all 3 to 5-year-olds free by 2021. A law passed in 2015 demands that larger firms set targets for hiring and promoting women. Other legislation caps overtime at 100 hours a month, a move designed to both prevent over-work and generate new roles where demand clearly exists.

“Highly educated women quit because it’s not worthwhile keeping that ‘stupid’ job,” said Machiko Osawa.

Women in Japan usually end up in the non-career roles, which involve administrative jobs with hardly any upward mobility. “Highly educated women quit because it’s not worthwhile keeping that ‘stupid’ job,” said Machiko Osawa, a labor economist at Japan Women’s University in a CNN report.2

The government is currently way behind the raft of targets PM Shinzo Abe set three years ago, which included the goal of women holding at least 30 percent of senior positions in all parts of society by 2020, since it is already 2019.

However, this situation has been gradually improving, with roughly 66 percent of Japanese women are working, according to Kathy Matsui of Goldman Sachs in a report from CNN. It is still below the 80 percent of men working in the country.3

In a study by Kazuo Yamaguchi, a Ralph Lewis Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, his analysis of the gender wage gap found that gender differences in employment type—specifically the larger proportion of women than men employed in non-regular positions—explain only 36 percent of the gender wage gap.

“The primary factor is the gender wage gap within full-time regular employment, which accounts for more than half of the overall gender wage gap. The elimination of the gender wage gap among regular workers is therefore a more pressing issue than fixing the overrepresentation of women in non-regular employment,” said Yamaguchi in his article.4

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The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.