Where are Japan's women leaders?


Why, wonders Shukan Post (Feb 5), is Japan failing so lamentably to produce women leaders?

A once revolutionary development is by now so globally commonplace that Japan’s relentlessly male political physiognomy draws stares worldwide. Names come so readily to mind it seems scarcely necessary to cite them to make the point: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, South Korean President Park Guen-hye, Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen, U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Myanmar’s democracy heroine Aung San Suu Kyi – the list goes on, but stops at Japan.

That’s not perhaps strictly true – Japan has had, and does have, female ministers, but their quality and standing, Shukan Post says, are not such as to blunt its argument that Japan remains woefully behind in this regard. Yuko Obuchi’s term as Economy, Trade and Industry minister, which ended in October 2014 after barely a month due to a funding scandal, did the cause of female empowerment no good. (Men too of course are felled by funding scandals, most recently former Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari – but a man, it seems, can disgrace himself without reflecting poorly on his gender.)

The Communications ministry and the Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council are both currently headed by women – Sanae Takaichi and Tomomi Inada respectively – but both of them, and Japanese female politicians generally, says political commentator Ryoko Ozawa, owe their rise to their “fawning on male politicians.” Former Consumer Affairs Minister Seiko Noda gets credit for not fawning and for “having ideas of her own” – but her quixotic run for the LDP presidency last fall seemed to highlight rather than refute women’s outsider status in politics.

Why is Japan seemingly so immune to the currents of female empowerment sweeping the rest of the world? Is the male establishment so implacably chauvinist? Are women too insecure to challenge them? Maybe it’s a combination of the two? Or something else altogether?

Part of the problem, Shukan Post hears from political analyst Hiroshi Asakawa, is Japan’s cabinet system, which has evolved in such a way that “to claw your way to the top, you must use the power of numbers. You must form your own faction and attract 30 to 50 followers. To do this, you must be an adept fund-raiser.” Toward this particular aspect of politics, Asakawa says, “women politicians don’t seem much inclined.”

To the extent that that means they shun its moral ambiguities, it may be a good thing. If moral squeamishness means political impotence, however, the issue takes on more complex overtones. Should women get their hands dirtier?

Absent systemic change, it seems, they will either learn to or doom their country to exclusively male leadership – for the immediately foreseeable future, at least. And beyond that? “There may,” suggests commentator Ozawa, “be women now in their 30s and 40s who in time will be ready for the responsibilities of real power. It’s true that among the women I know, there’s almost no talk of politics. On the other hand, it’s women, after all, who bear and raise children. How can they not be involved in politics?”

Shukan Post looks forward to a time when male politicians will be fawning on a female prime minister. A time when no one fawns on anyone would be even better.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Sadly, they still seem to be walking a couple of steps behind their men or pushing their way to the front of a bargain sale.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Hmmm... here we have an article claiming women aren't in positions of power because they're unwilling to get their hands dirty. Meanwhile we can juxtapose that against another story where a woman in a position of power, at least in entertainment, gets utterly destroyed and even deceitfully reported on by the news as guilty of getting her hands dirty while the man who did far more wrong suffers no consequences - all for no other reason than because she's a woman in the public eye.

Gee, I wonder why there are fewer women leaders in Japan.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Japan's women leaders are at home running the family, controlling the money, eating cake with friends, taking ikebana lessons etc. Easy life. Why would they want to step in man's shoes?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Either in situations as those presented above (striving for the Minato-ward-3LDK-homemaker-coffee-with-the-girls lifestyle), or suffering at the hands of the mysogynistic old boys' club of Japan Inc.

Dysfunctional either way. Those in power need to be flushed out!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

in the kitchen,,,

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Where are Japan's women leaders?

Where are Japan's leaders period. I can't see any for the rheumatic tail-chasing of the Oyaji cadre.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Renho of the DPJ might make a good PM someday.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan's women leaders are at home running the family, controlling the money, eating cake with friends, taking ikebana lessons etc. Easy life.

. . . Like it were 50 yrs. ago.

Why would they want to step in man's shoes?

Because they're educated and very capable of achieving any kind of success. Its Japan, and the people who "think" like you which are limiting the mentality and expectations of women.

For a so-called modern nation, Japan is way behind in women leadership. The chinese and koreans don't have this problem.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

hopefully the women are cooking and managing the house. we need them to be rested to make more babies and future tax payers.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

at the shop?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I know many small to midsize companies that are run by Husband/Wife teams and the Wife is the owner and boss, husband does sales, etc.

Look at the smaller sized businesses and manr are run by women.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Ikebana is more rewarding than standing attached to a strap, as long as it is not stolen on a deadly commute daily.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Basically, when the old men in charge invite women to participate, it's as tea-pourers and drink-servers. Same as it's ever been, same as it ever will be.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The work style holds everyone back. Plus chauvinism, fear and propaganda. Look what those Tokyo geezers did last year to a female politician, jeering at her and generally acting like thugs and bullies with impunity. They're all probably still in office. No shame, no gain.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

We have a shrinking population! We want women to get married and have kids. But we want them to work! So when they have those kids, we want them to put them into daycare for a full day as soon as possible.

Don't you understand you need to stay late at the office if you want to get ahead? By the way, extended daycare will be an extra fee.

Oh, but the family also needs healthy, home cooked meals and laundry! And don't you ever spend time with your kid? She's neurotic, like you're neglecting her.

Are you tired? Ganbatte.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Its Japan, and the people who "think" like you which are limiting the mentality and expectations of women.

Not sure about that. I know of a few Japanese women who's goal is to get married by 30 and quit their job to stay at home.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Where are Japan's women leaders?

A: Getting conned into extra-marital affairs, thus destroying their reputation and "proving" that they weren't worthy of leader status.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Judging from the seriousness of Japan's demographic decline, the vast majority of women are still living at home with their families, working temp jobs, and spending what little disposable income they have on Coach bags and trips to Bali with the rest of their single women friends.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Looking at this graph, you can see that Government participation by women is very llow in Islamic countries, communist countries, and ..... Japan. This is just my opnion, but I can imagine that male dominated governments tend not to have women's rights at the top of their agendas.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sorry, here it is

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At the end of the day Japan is just not social and culturally set up to have leaders - women don't want to be leaders and men don't want them to either. Don't think this comfortable status-quo is ever going to change until it becomes uncomfortable.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Where are Japan's women leaders?

Too busy cooking and cleaning up after the men.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese culture mitigates against women beoming leaders. Women who do become leaders in any society are usually independent, strong and with ideas of their own. The old Japanese men who are currently in power are not ready to work alongside those kind of women, so there's no support for them.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The women are the true overlords. Why should they sully themselves with politics?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Perhaps (wisely?) they just can't be bothered.

0 ( +1 / -1 ) the kitchen making sushi.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In their homes, in their kitchens making whatever they like and in their living rooms and culture centres doing ikebana, yoga, tea ceremony, and poetry, and travelling all over the world, at the schools and kindergartens, in their gardens, having affairs sometimes and preferring to become a bride than the most lauded television personality of their generation. On the contrary where are the non-Japanese women who are half as powerful?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Kidding and insults aside, it is time that in Japan we promote women to higher level positions and not hold them down from their abilities to manage and lead. There are differences in managing styles between women and men, just like there are positions that should be managed by women and not men and this doesn't mean CEO positions just the type of business and vice versa. Japan should reconsider deeply how to make this happen going forward.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I guess there is a big disdain and hatred for women among the aged ruling elite if not a large part of the populace.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Can someone explain to me the use of the noun women as an adjective? We don't say 'man leaders.'

In fact, to my ear, it sounds pejorative. Like women drivers, or Jew lawyers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's simple: they've been left behind in the lip-service. Abe vowed 30%, and won't even make 7%, not to mention the number of women in his cabinet is the lowest in a very long, long time. Yet is he going around the world apologizing to the nations he promised Japan would lead in female leaders to? Nope. Suddenly silent.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I guess there is a big disdain and hatred for women among the aged ruling elite if not a large part of the populace.

Joking surely!? This is the land of the Sun Goddess. The Japanese know the sun shines out of mummy's face.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The Japanese know the sun shines out of mummy's face.

Maybe there is a connection between the smothering, controlling mother/absent father and anti-female rage. There are widespread elements of rage, repression, objectification, humiliation, displaced sexual aggression, etc., all over the place in Japan. It is true that mother-Japan's voice is everywhere. But that can be a double-edged sword. It may go hand in hand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In every family the Japanese women is the leader. They have millions of leaders.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I used to work at a pretty well-to do preschool in Tokyo where mothers sent their children in the most expensive clothes money could buy, even though they'd grow out of them in a year or so. When we did a unit on occupations, I was heart-broken when all of the little girls (save for 1) said they never wanted to work and just wanted to stay home like their moms. There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom and it definitely a tough job, but what worried me is that they had no aspirations other than that...before settling down.

Back in the States children have a plethora of goals. Some not so realistic and others completely imaginative, but they had them. Maybe more little girls need more female leaders to look up to here in Japan?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Q: Where are Japan's women leaders?

A: trying to peel themselves off of the glass ceiling.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

First of all, where are the women workers? PTA, collecting and processing remarkably unproductive bell marks, chatting with the other women folks, lunching and encouraging the "necessity" of school volunteer work, the fun of it all, that 's the way to go here. Business leaders? Come on!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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