Mixed messages

Japan’s government wants women in upper management, and churning out children

(TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan’s government isn’t entirely sure what it wants from women. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared women to be the country’s “most-underutilized resource,” and hopes to increase women’s presence in senior jobs from the 8 percent they currently occupy to 30 percent by 2020. The message is mixed, however, amidst statements from chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga asking that women “contribute to their country by feeling like they want to have more children.” Compounding the issue was a recent announcement from Japan’s Labor Ministry that in the 17 months since they began offering financial incentives to companies that promoted women to senior positions not a single company has applied for the funds. Intersecting the two issues are Japan’s struggles with retaining women in the workplace after their first child – in Japan, 70 percent stop working for a decade or more compared to 30 percent in the US, with many Japanese women claiming to have been harassed into leaving their work by bosses and coworkers who think they should be focused on being mothers. Japan’s declining population and failure to utilize its women in the workforce are both economic liabilities, and thus far government efforts to combat both problems at once are proving ineffective.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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