Japan’s New Prime Minister Aims to Increase Women’s Representation in Executive Positions

Image Source: The Guardian

Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, has announced a goal for almost a third of executive positions at the country’s top companies to be held by women by the end of the decade. The move is an attempt to improve Japan’s poor record on gender equality ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima next month. Kishida has stated that increasing boardroom diversity would boost the world’s third-largest economy. He aims to have women occupy at least 30% of executive positions in companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s prime market by 2030.

Japan has been criticized for the lack of women in senior positions both in the private sector and in public life. In major listed companies in Japan last year, only 11.4% of executives were women. However, this figure has been rising in recent years, and there are signs of progress in politics, too. The Japanese government has attempted to recruit more women to run for office since a 2018 gender equality law required them to “make efforts” to select similar numbers of male and female candidates. Women occupy only about 10% of seats in the lower House of Parliament, but a record number of female candidates won seats in last summer’s upper house elections, and 28% of upper house seats are held by women.

While there have been some positive developments in politics and other areas of public life, Japan’s corporate sector still lags behind comparable economies in terms of gender diversity and the gender pay gap. Japan ranked 116th out of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap report. Critics argue that true progress will only be made when more women, who currently form the backbone of the part-time, low-pay economy, are given permanent positions and support to balance work and family commitments. Kishida’s announcement follows a similar goal set by then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2003, which fell short of the target by 2020.

Re-reported from the story originally published in guardian.com

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