Kishida Vows to Promote Women's Empowerment

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to promote the economic independence of women as a core pillar of his “new form of capitalism” policy, saying Japan will step up efforts to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in cooperation with the international community.

In a speech at The World Assembly for Women conference in Tokyo, Kishida cited measures his government is taking, including urging major Japanese companies to address wage gaps between men and women and setting up a system to encourage men to take paternity leave, the Kyodo News reported.

Kishida made the pledge as a World Economic Forum report showed Japan ranked 116 among 146 countries in the gender gap rankings this year, the lowest among the Group of Seven industrialised nations.

The World Assembly for Women, the first held since March 2019 due to the Covid-19 the pandemic, was attended by world leaders and delegates, including Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson, whose country has topped the WEF’s gender gap index, Moldova’s President Maia Sandu and U.N. Women Executive Director Sima Bahous.

Womenomics

Kishida, striving to achieve a virtuous cycle of growth and wealth redistribution through his new form of capitalism, hopes to use the results of the government-sponsored event when Japan hosts a G-7 summit in Hiroshima in May next year.

When Goldman Sachs banker Kathy Matsui first floated the idea of “Womenomics” in a report over 22 years ago, she argued at the time that Japan’s need for greater gender diversity and inclusion was as much an economic as a cultural or social issue.

The first Womenomics report in 1999, revealed Japan’s female labor-force participation rate was 56% – one of the lowest of advanced economies. Since then, the percentage has risen sharply, to nearly 71% as of February 2019.

The growth was bolstered during the administration of the late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s time in office. Under his economic reform agenda known as “Abenomics” the number of employed women in Japan surged by more than three million, from 26.4 million in 2012 to 29.7 million in 2018.

Abe’s government also implemented several policies designed to promote wage equality, raise female labor participation rates and increase the number of women in leadership roles.

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