Project MUSE U S Japan Women’s Journal

One such law pushed in the 1960s was called hitozukuri policy, or human-making policy, which burdened women with the responsibility to reproduce a new generation capable of economic success. In Japan, the process of getting a divorce is considered a personal family issue in which the Japanese government does not get extremely involved in except to provide legal papers that need to be consensually signed by both partners in the marriage.

  • Of the 1,051 candidates, just 186 – or less than 18% – are women, despite the introduction in 2018 of a gender equality law encouraging parties to select similar numbers of male and female candidates.
  • 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.
  • Rising life expectancies and declining birth rates led to a shrinking and aging society, making it inevitable that women would be further integrated into the country’s workforce.
  • The Japanese prioritization of seniority hurts the women who want to have children first, as promotions will be awarded much later in life.

There have been changes to try and fight social discrimination such as the Japanese Ministry of Health enforcing work place regulations against income and social discrimination of someone due to their sexual orientation. The gender roles that discourage Japanese women from seeking elected office have been further consolidated through Japan’s model of the welfare state. In particular, since the postwar period, Japan has adopted the « male breadwinner » model, which favors a nuclear-family household in which the husband is the breadwinner for the family while the wife is a dependant. When the wife is not employed, the family eligible for social insurance services and tax deductions.

These provisions were eliminated through amendments to the Labour Standards Law that took effect in 1999. Separate reforms in the 1990s and 2000s applied anti-discrimination law more comprehensively throughout the labor market. Overwhelmingly, parenting in Japan falls on the women to ensure children succeed in a highly competitive educational system. Certain policies have emerged to alleviate some burdens, such as 12 months of parental leave at 50% income. However, these changes have proven to be largely ineffective as the demand for childcare services grows significantly faster than the supply and there is a lack of legally binding authority for parental leave policies.


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.

In prior decades, U.S. women in their late 20s and 30s participated in the labor market far more than their counterparts in Japan, and there was a slow rise in participation as women aged from their 20s to their mid-40s. Given the challenges which the Japanese economy faces, politicians in recent years have acknowledged the need for a social system in which women can maximize their full potential. Despite a high educational level among the female population, the career path of women is usually interrupted for longer periods upon the birth of their first child. After the childcare years, women tend to work part-time, which entails lower wages and fewer career opportunities. Under the government of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, policies aimed at supporting the further integration of women into the workforce were dubbed womenomics.

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 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.

Women’s representation

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.

Propaganda and magazines portrayed them as symbols of hope and pride to ease minds during the uncertainty of war. The government drafted poor Japanese women to be comfort women for military men and their job extended to merely sexual services. They were given more freedom to make lives outside of the home, but were still constricted by men’s expectations and perceptions. Geishas served as symbols of escape from Japan’s war and violence, and brought back traditional performances to entertain men. They retained more freedom than the average Japanese women of the time, but they were required to meet the sexist demands of Japan’s upper class and governmental regulations.

LGBTQ+ Marriage Rights and Violence in Law

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.

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