Japan has made slight progress in closing the gender gap in various fields but still ranks the lowest among the world’s top economic powers, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
“Japan has closed 65.6% of its gender gap and ranks 120th [out of 156 countries], among the lowest-ranked countries in the East Asia and Pacific region,” read the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2021.
“However, Japan has slightly closed its overall gap this year, moving up two positions since last year’s edition of the index.”
The WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index follows is based on four key dimensions – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
Japan’s improvement is mainly due to increased political empowerment of women “where the gap has narrowed by 1.3 percentage points,” the report said.
The jump raised the country’s ranking in the political empowerment sub-index to 147.
“Despite this progress, the level of women’s participation in politics remains low,” the report said.
Pointing out that Japan has never had a woman head of state in the past 50 years, the report revealed that only 9.9% of current parliamentarians and 10% of government ministers are women.
Japan’s overall rank of 120 was the lowest among the G7, the seven largest advanced economies.
Germany led the pack with a rank of 11, followed by France at 16, the UK at 23, Canada at 24, the US at 30, and Italy at 63.
Among the other sub-indices, Japan showed slight progress – 0.5 percentage points – in economic participation and opportunity.
However, the country “continues to perform poorly with just 60.4% of this gap closed to date, corresponding to a rank of 117th globally.”
“This is mainly caused by a low share of women in senior roles (14.7%), and although 72% of women are in the labor force (84% gap closed), the share of women working part-time roles is almost twice that of men (50.8% versus 22.2%),” read the report.
The WEF findings also showed that “the average Japanese woman’s income is 43.7% lower than the average Japanese man’s income.”
‘Efforts are lagging’
“While other countries are boosting their efforts for gender equality, I think it shows that our efforts are lagging, relatively,” Katsunobu Kato, a government spokesman, told a news conference on Thursday, local news outlet Kyodo News reported.
Japan aims to raise the ratio of women candidates in national elections to 35% by 2025, according to the official.
He said the government will work with opposition parties on efforts to improve women’s empowerment in Japan.