RIETI Report November 2014

Japan Should Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Indirect Gender Discrimination at the Workplace as a Step Toward the Greater Utilization of Women

Although the government plans to increase the ratio of women in leadership positions in the political and economic spheres to 30% by 2030, progress in women's advancement remains extremely slow in Japan. Among the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States has a relatively high percentage of women in management positions at 43%, European countries mostly fall in the 30% to 40% range, but in Japan, women account for only about 10% of management positions. In the November issue of the RIETI Report, we present RIETI Visiting Fellow Kazuo Yamaguchi's column "Japan Should Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Indirect Gender Discrimination at the Workplace as a Step Toward the Greater Utilization of Women" which explores the reasons for the low percentage of women in management positions in Japan.

Yamaguchi first takes a look at some of the common reasons given by Japanese companies for why there are few women in management positions and counters these arguments with findings from his research. For women in Japan, there is a stronger correlation between longer working hours and a higher percentage of those holding management positions. More than 60% of Japanese female workers leave their jobs for marriage and childrearing due to a lack of work-life balance, but Yamaguchi advocates creating a society where adequate work-life balance is attainable as a way to promote women's advancement and points out the difficulty in achieving this given the state of affairs in employment in Japan, which are significantly affected by gender factors and are considered as abnormal by international standards. Finally, he stresses the importance of legislative changes to alleviate the current situation, looking at examples from around the world.

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Japan Should Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Indirect Gender Discrimination at the Workplace as a Step Toward the Greater Utilization of Women

YAMAGUCHI KazuoVisiting Fellow, RIETI

Although the government plans to increase the ratio of women in leadership positions in the political and economic spheres to 30% by 2030, progress in women's advancement remains extremely slow in Japan. Among the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States has a high percentage of women in management positions at 43%, while European countries mostly fall in the 30% to 40% range. In contrast, women account for approximately 10% of management positions in Japan. In this article, I would like to explore why the percentage of women in management positions remains low in Japan.

A questionnaire survey of employers conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) identified three major reasons why Japanese companies have few or no women in management positions. The biggest reason, cited by the majority of respondent companies, is: "At the moment, we do not have any qualified women with sufficient knowledge, expertise, and judgment." Meanwhile, the second and third biggest reasons—"Although we have some female candidates for future management positions, at the moment, none of them meet the qualifications such as the number of years of service" and "The length of service of female employees tends to be short, and they usually leave before reaching managerial positions"—point to the short length of service of women. That is, Japanese companies see women as lacking experience. But is this true?

To read the full text
http://www.rieti.go.jp/en/papers/contribution/yamaguchi/08.html

News

The Japan Industrial Productivity Database 2014 (JIP Database 2014) has been released. It comprises various types of annual data necessary for estimating total factor productivity in 108 industries covering Japan's economy as a whole for the period 1970-2011. As the revised version includes the data from 2011, we hope that they will contribute to research on changes in factor inputs and productivity that occurred during this year which encountered serious challenges including the Great East Japan Earthquake and the floods in Thailand.

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