Japan's Womenomics Goals Downgraded

December 10
2:29 AM 2015

Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "womenomics" plan to encourage more Japanese women in the workforce, the country doesn't seem to want to follow it. Japan's gender equality bureau has reduced its goal of hiring women in senior positions from 30% to 7% and leadership positions in the private sector to 15% by 2020.

Currently there are women in only 3.5% of senior government positions, which took 10 years to achieve. However, the government originally started with 1.6% of positions filled by women in 2003. The reason for the push for equality is because Japan, the world's third largest economy, is trying to fight a recession while battling a labor shortage and quickly aging population.

Cabinet Office official Yosuke Konno explains the why they reduced the goal. "It doesn't mean that we gave up the goal of 30 per cent... but the new target reflects the most ambitious figure at this point."

Compared to other developed nations, Japan's female work population is low, with about 65% working. Goldman Sachs' Kathy Matsui, with CNN Money explains that if the country succeeds in its goals they would add an estimated 7.1 million employees and increase gross domestic product by 13%.

Companies have been given monetary incentives to encourage women, but the response isn't enough. One incentive that gave a subsidy to companies who hired women into senior positions had only one company interested out of the 400 expected apply. The regulations also don't have a penalty for companies that ignore the law.

Japan Today has suggested that other targets should accompany the hiring goals. By increasing funding for childcare and nursery schools, the staff that takes care of the infants can be properly trained instead of quitting due to stress of not understanding the job and being underpaid. There should also be a push for more role models in the Japanese family. The article suggests that if children see their own mother successful and ambitious then it gives them incentive to be so too.

A good role model is Rika Beppu, chair of the EBC Legal Services Committee. She has been able to successfully combine work and family. She had her two children at age 41 and 43. She believes she was able to succeed because she was able to hire a full time nanny. As she states with Japan Today, "It's not easy to have kids if you are in a non-promotional career path because, to be honest, to have kids you need financial stability. "

There also may not be enough support for women to enter the senior positions. The lack of childcare, deeply rooted sexism, and failure of companies to train and promote women are all hampering the growth of women in higher positions. 

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