Project MUSE U S Japan Women’s Journal

Fewer children could also contribute to higher participation rates, but here the patterns in Japan and the U.S. suggest a relative improvement in U.S. women’s participation from 2000 to 2016—the opposite of what was observed. As shown in appendix figure 1, while the Japanese fertility rate is notably lower than in the United States, it has actually been increasing since 2005, in contrast to a U.S. fertility rate that has fallen slightly. With this constricted pipeline, Japanese companies often complain that they cannot find enough qualified female candidates from their own ranks to fill their boards. Only 6 percent of directors at listed companies in Japan are women, according to government statistics, compared with about a quarter among Fortune 500 companies in the United States. In Japan, almost all come from outside the companies on whose boards they sit. In Japan, the adolescent birth rate is 3.1 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 as of 2018, down from 3.4 per 1,000 in 2017. Any visitor to Tokyo, Japan’s capital, will notice that sex is everywhere.

  • Women’s political and social advancement was thus tied to their role as mothers.
  • This amendment shortens the women’s remarriage period to 100 days and allows any woman who is not pregnant during the divorce to remarry immediately after divorce.
  • Yoshiko Maeda, a councillor in western Tokyo since 2015, says sexism is not confined to social media.
  • Many women find satisfaction in family life and in the accomplishments of their children, gaining a sense of fulfillment from doing good jobs as household managers and mothers.
  • Women in offices are often treated as cheap labour, relegated to menial tasks such as serving tea.

Compared to the limitations previous generations had to face, modern Japanese women enjoy more freedom, have better access to education, more job opportunities, and therefore gained visibility in society. But while attitudes on traditional gender roles may have shifted in recent decades, social change has since been a slow, gradual movement and by no means has Japan reached an equal society.

Another critique suggests the cars send the signal that men create a dangerous environment for women, who cannot protect themselves. Japanese 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

Modern day women show the drive to continue working beyond the expected retirement age to make a difference in society. The most dramatic change in modern Japan is the role of women and how they are defining themselves both internationally and domestically. They have fought through many difficulties in order to construct their identity. However, because of Japanese pride and nationalism, women were used as advertisements for Japanese and international audiences.

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.

Activist Tamaka Ogawa says she joined the women’s movement after receiving insults—such as “filthy feminist” —over a 2013 article defending working mothers. Mori, who was head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee, provoked worldwide outrage in February 2021 with remarks about “talkative women” prolonging meetings. A petition launched the following day calling for “appropriate sanctions” against him collected 110,000 signatures in two days. A Kyodo poll found that 60 percent of Japanese believed he should step down as committee head. A number of Olympic sponsors and celebrities distanced themselves from his remarks, and more than a thousand volunteers refused to help out during the Olympics. Despite Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s support, Mori was forced to step down, the first time an LDP heavyweight had resigned over sexist behavior.

Expectations for men and women have traditionally aligned with societal obligations in the private and public sector. Women dominated the household but outside of the home, their families dictated their behavior. Although ancient philosophies like Confucianism and feudalism laid the foundations for the status of women, turning points like WWII allowed them to break through the glass ceiling and defy gender expectations. A similar distinction—that of regular and non-regular employees (part-time, temporary, and other indirect workers)—is especially salient in Japan. Using this categorization, it is apparent that a substantially larger portion of prime-age women are engaged in non-traditional (and often lower-quality) jobs, with the share increasing from 44.2 percent in 2000 to 51.0 percent in 2016. Non-regular workers aremore likely to engage in routine tasks,less likely to qualify for public pension insurance, andless likely to see wage increases throughout their careers.

In March 2019, Matsuo and feminist writer Minori Kitahara had launched Japan’s #MeToo #WithYou movement, calling for demonstrations against the acquittals of four men accused of sexual assault. January 10, 2022In the 2021 elections, only 9.7 percent of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s candidates were women. The development of feudal Japan during the Kamakura period distinctly outlined the expectations of women. She cautiously expresses the necessity for discretion in regards to her knowledge, since this education was restricted for women, again a product of preconceived prejudices against women due to the Buddhist convictions. The Heian period is known for its developments in literature, attributed to the woman authors such as Murasaki. The thirteenth century Buddhist morality tale The Captain of Naruto emphasizes the concept of female submission and male dominance.

The use of women-only cars in Japan has been critiqued from various perspectives. Some suggest that the presence of the cars makes women who choose not to use them more vulnerable. Public comment sometimes include the argument that women-only cars are a step too far in protecting women. Some academics have argued that the cars impose the burden of social segregation to women, rather than seeking the punishment of criminals.

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.

Ms. Fukushima said she had never experienced overt sexism in her work on the boards. But she said that she had been disappointed by Japanese companies’ slow progress in adding women to their leadership, especially given the abundance of good candidates. With women largely shut out of upper management in Japan, one of the primary paths to corporate boards has been through foreign companies. Believing the moment is ripe for change, Ms. Koshi and a co-worker, Kaoru Matsuzawa, this year started OnBoard, a firm aimed at training hundreds of women for board positions and seeking to match them with companies. TOKYO — When Naomi Koshi was elected in June to the board of one of Japan’s largest telecommunications companies, she became one of the few women in the country to reach the top of the corporate ladder. Naomi Koshi, a lawyer who serves on two corporate boards, said she first understood the inequality in Japan in 2000, when she graduated from college. Sir Kazuo’s first novel, “A Pale View of Hills”, borrows names and themes from “Sound of the Mountain”, playfully weaving them into his own narrative.

The simultaneous decline in U.S. women’s participation and rise in Japanese women’s participation that began around 2000 is particularly striking. In that year, prime-age women in Japan participated at a rate fully 10.2 percentage points below that of their U.S. counterparts; by 2016, Japanese women participated at a 2.0 percentage point higher rate.