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  • Women were instilled with values of restraint, respect, organization, decorum, chastity, and modesty.
  • But the hole in question does not lead to a fantasy world of mad hatters and tea parties.
  • The Japanese prioritization of seniority hurts the women who want to have children first, as promotions will be awarded much later in life.

Studies have shown that there is a negative correlation between the number of hours worked by fathers in their jobs and the amount of housework that the father provides. After paid work, the father would come home, spending most of his time eating or in non-social interactions such as watching TV with his family. This led to the term “Japan Inc.,” synonymous with males committing their life to their job while in a long-term relationship. The percentage of births to unmarried women in selected countries, 1980 and 2007. As can be seen in the figure, Japan has not followed the trend of other Western countries of children born outside of marriage to the same degree.

However, when it comes to women’s representation in politics, Japan remains behind other developed democracies as well as many developing countries. As of 2019, Japan ranks 164th out of 193 countries when it comes to the percentage of women in the lower or single house.


They remain less likely to be hired as full-time employees and on average earn almost 44 percent less than men. Many leave their jobs after having a child, and making up the lost time is almost impossible under Japan’s seniority-based system. Although slowly, the Japanese government is taking steps toward transforming the nation into a more equitable society. The gender gap in employment and wages is becoming an increasingly serious problem, with Japan being the fastest aging country in the OECD.

After the war, women continued to prove that they wouldn’t regress to old ways of gender discrimination and that they wanted to be trailblazers for future Japanese women. Women were empowered by their newly discovered potential for equality and continued to sustain their prominence. That’s a major issue in Japan, where the birth rate is falling, the population is aging, and many young people are in precarious, low-paid jobs. Less than 3 percent of children were born out of wedlock in 2020, and the decision to marry still largely depends on the man’s ability to provide, though attitudes are starting to change. These developments provide a clear opening for businesses to support STEM education for young women.

The negative Buddhist depiction of women infiltrates the story of Genji as well as reflects the common marriage practices of the time. Out of 192 countries, Japan ranks 167th in women’s representation in government. Women make up only 9.9% of the lower house and 22.9% of the upper house in Japan’s national parliament.

In October 2017, The Hamilton Projectreleased a book of policy proposalsthat focus on this avenue for enhancing economic security. Improvements in child care, paid leave, and scheduling policies might make it more feasible for women in the United States to join the labor market. Tax policies could be rearranged so they do not reduce the marginal benefit of work to married women. An expansion of the earned income tax credit could improve the earnings of women with less education—increasing the incentive for them to be in the job market. This is evident in terms of the prevalence of part-time work, the share of women in leadership roles, and the gender wage gap.

In popular culture the toiling of salarymen to feed their families is often compared to the self-sacrifice of the samurai. So sexual entertainment is seen as a means of rejuvenating their productive powers. The women Ms Koch meets often take pride in repairing men’s mental wounds. In 2018, it was revealed that several university medical schools, Tokyo Medical University, Juntendo University, and Kitasato University, favored male applicants by using different passing marks for men and women. In Japan, the ratios of female doctors compared to male doctors are relatively low, and the overall numbers of them are only 21.1%.

In both countries, the age at first marriage has risen steadily since the early 2000s, contributing to a decline in the share of the prime-age population that is married. With Japanese women aged 25 to 54 less likely to be married in recent years, the prime-age women’s population now contains more people who traditionally have participated in the labor market at high rates, as shown in the left panel of figure 5. As Japan faced a rapidly aging population earlier than many other countries, it is sometimes seen as a window into other countries’ futures, when the population and workforce will eventually age to a similar extent as in Japan today. However, when it comes to labor market outcomes for women, this story is too simple.

Working women in Japan

In the 1930s and 1940s, the government encouraged the formation of women’s associations, applauded high fertility, and regarded motherhood as a patriotic duty to the Japanese Empire. However, it is important to note that population aging may have consequences that are less direct. For example, the increase in demand for long-term care services—a sector employing many more women than men—likely increased demand for women’s labor. These calculations are only intended to give a rough sense of the magnitudes of the shifts, as we have not attempted to identify the causal impact of rising long-term care demand. Until the late 1990s, the so-called women’s protection provisions putlimits on women’s labor market engagement, limiting hours of work and total overtime as well as prohibiting women from working in occupations deemed dangerous.

In 2019, 44.2% of employed women were part-time and temporary workers, compared to only 11.7% of employed men. Sakie Fukushima became one of the first Japanese women to become a director of a major domestic company when she joined the board of the chemical and cosmetics company Kao in 2002.

Japan’s newfound Buddhism had fundamental convictions that women were of evil nature, which eventually led women into a submissive role of in Japanese society. There is also a widespread recognition by the Japanese society that interests and abilities must be cultivated early and nurtured generously through academic education, extracurricular activities and social interactions. However, data from the National Institute for Educational Policy Research shows only 16% of girls choose to further pursue science and math education in high school, compared to 27% of high school boys who select science and mathematics. In 2019, slightly more than half (50.7%) of Japanese women advanced from secondary schools to universities, an increase from an advancement rate of only 15.2% in 1990. Japan holds the highest share of the world’s population in this age group. James Raymo points out that more recent Japanese cohorts have also left the workforce after childbirth, but for shorter periods of time. “Most of the companies are receptive; they recognize this is an issue, and they’re hoping to resolve it over the next year or two,” said Chris Vilburn, the head of Asia stewardship in Goldman’s asset management division.