5 women named to Cabinet
Japan's prime minister picked five women for his Cabinet yesterday, matching the past record and sending the strongest message yet about his determination to revive the economy by getting women on board as workers and leaders.
Japan has a vast pool of talented, well-educated women, but they are far under-represented in positions of power in government and corporations. Women make up 10 per cent of parliament and just 3.9 per cent of board members of listed Japanese companies, versus 12 per cent at US corporations and 18 per cent in France.
Women here have long complained about the obstacles to getting taken seriously at work, getting equal pay for equal work, and finding childcare or helpful spouses.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated yesterday that a key part of his 'Abenomics' growth strategy is making greater use of women and promoting them to leadership posts, a campaign dubbed 'womenomics', a term he has embraced. Abe has set a goal of having women in 30 per cent of leadership positions in both the private and public sectors by 2020.
"Realising a society where women can shine is a challenge our Cabinet has undertaken," he said during a news conference. "I look forward to the wind of change these women will bring."
Having five women in the Cabinet, which currently has 18 members, is extremely rare for Japan. It matches the highest number, set back in 2001, under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Abe's previous Cabinet, dissolved earlier in the day, had two women ministers.