In the past weeks the media was full of female firsts in Japan. For example at the Bank of Japan its first female branch manager in its 128-year history was presented. Then Japan Airlines Corp. showed off their first female pilot captain. East Japan Railway now has female station masters in Tokyo for the first time. In politics Renho as a member of parliament got 1.7 million votes for the previous upper-house elections, the only candidate to receive more than a million votes. It seems that she had become one of the most popular politicians in Japan.
All the above presents Japan as undergoing strong changes in the empowerment of women. But I have my doubts about the reality. I do agree that advancement and promotion of women occurs, but looking from a global perspective the advancement is much slower compared to the rest of the world. According to the Wall Street Journal a recent survey that measured progress in bridging the gender gap in areas such as politics, education, economy and health, the World Economic Forum last year ranked Japan at 101 out of 134 countries. More than two-thirds of the countries covered in the report have posted gains in their scores since 2006. Japan has slipped in the rankings every year, sliding back from its 80th spot in 2006.
Honestly this trend scares me for the future of local Japanese business. Having in mind that in more or less all the households in Japan the women have the decision-making power for purchases, I strongly believe a more women oriented approach for the market is urgently needed.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)