Initially, the country’s female labor force participation rate continued to lag behind that of peer nations, including other Group of Seven nations, and critics expressed skepticism that top-down political reforms would have a lasting benefit. By 2016, female labor force participation had risen to 66 percent, surpassing that of the United States . In the 1990s, Japan’s female labor force participation rate was among the lowest in the developed world. In 2013, recognizing the power of women’s economic participation to mitigate demographic challenges that threatened the Japanese economy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed to adopt so-called womenomics as a core pillar of the nation’s growth strategy.

  • Sexual harassment is becoming a fact of life for women who run for office in Japan, where female participation in politics is already among the lowest in the world.
  • Is a traditional Japanese female entertainer who acts as a hostess and whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music, dance, games, serving tea and conversation, mainly to entertain male customers.
  • Japan is not the only country that could benefit from tapping into women’s latent economic power.
  • Analysis of the success of womenomics finds areas of progress but also persistent challenges.

Sexuality in Japan has developed separately from mainland Asia, and Japan did not adopt the Confucian view of marriage in which chastity is highly valued. Of the 10,000 entering protective custody at the shelter, nearly half arrived with children or other family members. After 1945, the Allied occupation aimed to enforce equal education between sexes; this included a recommendation in 1946 to provide compulsory co-education until the age of 16. By the end of 1947, nearly all middle schools and more than half of high schools were co-educational.

Another critique suggests the cars send the signal that men create a dangerous environment for women, who cannot protect themselves. Japanese find more at and foreign women and girls have been victims of sex trafficking in Japan. They are raped in brothels and other locations and experience physical and psychological trauma. Japanese anti-sex trafficking legislation and laws have been criticized as being lacking. Of the 200,000 abortions performed per year, however, 10% are teenage women, a number which has risen since 1975. At 87 years, the life expectancy of Japanese women is the longest of any gender anywhere in the world. Notably, Tsuruko Haraguchi, the first woman in Japan to earn a PhD, did so in the US, as no Meiji-era institution would allow her to receive her doctorate.

History of Gender Inequality in Education

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.

Subsequent cohorts of women in Japan have increasingly broken from this pattern. Every cohort born after the 1952–56 group has experienced a successively smaller—and somewhat delayed—early-career decline in labor force participation. Indeed, women born after 1977 have maintained or increased their participation through their 20s, with relatively muted declines in the early 30s. In contrast, women born in the 1980s in the United States do not participate at higher rates than previous cohorts, and in fact are slightly less likely to be in the labor force.

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.

Japan not only closed the gap with the United States, but is now ahead of the United States in women’s participation. Japan’s labor market was once notable for the pronounced“M-shaped”patternof women’s labor force participation. High participation just after degree attainment was followed by a decline during marriage and early childrearing years, eventually giving way to a rebound in labor force participation . For example, 66 percent of women born between 1952 and 1956 participated in the labor force in their early 20s, but half of those women participated in their late 20s and early 30s. By their 40s, that participation rate had risen past its original level to roughly 70 percent. Such an M-shaped pattern is absent or greatly attenuated in the United States .

When divorce was granted under equal measures to both sexes under the post-war constitution, divorce rates steadily increased. After the Meiji period, the head of the household was required to approve of any marriage. Until 1908, it remained legal for husbands to murder wives for infidelity. Lebra’s traits for internal comportment of femininity included compliance; for example, children were expected not to refuse their parents. Self-reliance of women was encouraged because needy women were seen as a burden on others. In these interviews with Japanese families, Lebra found that girls were assigned helping tasks while boys were more inclined to be left to schoolwork.

During the 21st century, Japanese women are working in higher proportions than the United States’s working female population. Income levels between men and women in Japan are not equal; the average Japanese woman earns 40 percent less than the average man, and a tenth of management positions are held by women. Given the dominance of men in Japanese politics, female politicians often face gender-based discrimination and harassment in Japan. They experience harassment from the public, both through social media and in-person interactions, and from their male colleagues. A 2021 survey revealed that 56.7% of 1,247 female local assembly members had been sexually harassed by voters or other politicians. Even though the 1997 revision of the EEOL criminalized sexual harassment in the workplace, female politicians in Japan often do not have the same support when they are harassed by male colleagues. The LDP has been reluctant to implement measures to counter harassment within the party and to promote gender equality more generally.

Right to divorce

In the 2021 Japanese general election, less than 18 percent of candidates for the House of Representatives were women. Of these 186 candidates, 45 were elected, constituting 9.7 percent of the 465 seats in the lower chamber. This number represents a decline from the 2017 general election, which resulted in women winning 10.1 percent of House seats. In 2013, Japan adopted “womenomics” as a core pillar of the nation’s growth strategy, recognizing the power of women’s economic participation to mitigate demographic challenges that threatened the Japanese economy. Japan has seen a rise in female labor force participation, but government policies have had little immediate effect on the strong cultural pressures that dissuade many women from staying in the workforce. Japan managed to increase the labor force participation of groups that were badly lagging and brought them up to the typical participation rate of women. The impacts on the economy and living standards highlight the importance of such actions.

Before its enactment, women could generally only get labor-intensive jobs in poor working conditions, mostly on farms or in unsafe factories. Post-EEOL Japan began to see blue collar jobs fill up with machines, allowing women to have better opportunities elsewhere in society. Modern education of women began in earnest during the Meiji era’s modernization campaign. The first schools for women began during this time, though education topics were highly gendered, with women learning arts of the samurai class, such as tea ceremonies and flower arrangement. The 1871 education code established that students should be educated “without any distinction of class or sex”. Nonetheless, after 1891 students were typically segregated after third grade, and many girls did not extend their educations past middle school. Government policies to increase the birthrate include early education designed to develop citizens into capable parents.

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.