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Abe tells Harvard he's trying to improve status of women in Japan

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Abe, through a translator, said Japan is making various efforts to provide realistic relief to the victims, without elaborating.

He also said the nation is taking a leading role in international womens human rights.

Seems more than a little ironic that these statements follow each other. How can you really promote women's rights across the board whilst trying to dodge the reality of the sexual slavery of women in WW2? Some of whom are still alive to tell the story. It's disgraceful.

18 ( +22 / -5 )

There is a big difference between trying and doing!

19 ( +19 / -2 )

encouraging ... greater participation of women in the workforce

I doubt I will see a change toward significantly greater participation of Japanese women in the workforce in my lifetime.

In my experience, very few Japanese women want to trade the role of housewife for that of income earner.

Many of the women in Japan I have seen who do hold careers into middle age, or are forced to take a job due to divorce or husband's job loss, are very resentful that they have to work, particularly while their more successful peers (the one who married high income earners) spend their days pursuing self improvement (flower arrangement, English conversation, tea ceremony classes, yoga, tennis, etc.) and going to fancy restaurants and travel without husband.

There is a deep-seated sense of entitlement among many women in Japan that they deserve a life of leisure once the kids have hit junior high school. It will take decades for this mindset to shift into one of greater equality of male-female rights and responsibilities.

11 ( +21 / -11 )

Sensato

Data would be nice.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Abe can't do much. At the very top of corporate Japan, less than 5 percent of company heads were female. Corporate culture is by far the biggest obstacle for Japanese women. The practice of hiring graduates fresh out of university and employing them for their entire working lives makes it difficult for employees to take career breaks and seek new positions elsewhere afterwards. Promotion tends to be based on tenure and overtime, rather than on productivity and performance. And straightforward discrimination remains rampant. If you compare the reasons why Japanese and American college graduates leave their jobs, American women cited child care and looking after elderly as the main factors. Japanese women blamed dissatisfaction with their jobs and a feeling of being put into “dead-end” roles. The fact that Japanese husbands spend less time on child care or household chores, adds to the need to stay at home.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Right! Again, nothing but words, words, words!

However, not he ones people would like to hear.

I mean, what kind of answer is this: "“various efforts” to provide “realistic relief” to the victims".

That was not what the student asked.

It's always the same: avoid confrontation and be as vague as possible.

13 ( +16 / -4 )

Abe tells Harvard he's trying to improve status of women in Japan

If we can take the title in isolation, despite the twee moniker, 'Womenomics' is actually improving the lot of women in the workplace.

Publicly listed companies will soon be obliged to disclose the gender composition of their workforce and management, with under-performers required to publish action plans for improvement.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I am struck with a strange feeling about the recent criticism about pre-war Japan militarism. It comes from China, Korea and now from America a half century later. What is their purpose?

-13 ( +3 / -15 )

SenseNotSoCommon Apr. 28, 2015 - 08:10AM JST If we can take the title in isolation, despite the twee moniker, 'Womenomics' is actually improving the lot of women in the workplace.

Most people hate their jobs and want to quit. A much higher proportion of women have that choice realized subsequently becoming economically dependent on their husbands, regardless of having children or childcare responsibilities; it's a choice they relish but one simply not available to the vast majority of men.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nearly half the employees at my Tokyo office are female. The Japanese women who want to work are already working. Forcing the non-working ones on to the treadmill ain't gonna help anyone.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Abe needs to get a female speech writer. Even through an interpreter his words are flat and forced. One cannot call themselves 'fearless'. It is like saying "I'm very humble."

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Many of the women in Japan I have seen who do hold careers into middle age, or are forced to take a job due to divorce or husband's job loss, are very resentful that they have to work, particularly while their more successful peers (the one who married high income earners) spend their days pursuing self improvement (flower arrangement, English conversation, tea ceremony classes, yoga, tennis, etc.) and going to fancy restaurants and travel without husband.

And how do you know they are resentful?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

'Nearly half the employees at my Tokyo office are female. The Japanese women who want to work are already working. Forcing the non-working ones on to the treadmill ain't gonna help anyone.'

I don't know what industry you are in but many of the talented women at my place went abroad to work. I'd tell any career-minded daughter of mine to get out of Japan like a shot.

8 ( +10 / -3 )

Data would be nice.

@BlackSabbath

Sorry, no data. My post was purely anecdotal (thus, "in my experience...") based on what I have many times seen/heard in Japan firsthand, and second hand from friends in Japan.

From what I see (again anecdotal), the 35yo+ women who work face a lot of peer pressure from friends who are leading the Japanese housewife, self-improvement-oriented lifestyle, resulting in an abundance of envy and animosity among those women still slaving away.

5 ( +7 / -3 )

There is a deep-seated sense of entitlement among many women in Japan that they deserve a life of leisure once the kids have hit junior high school.

In my experience, it's when the kids hit junior high school, the kids are out of the house for longer and education bills start rolling in and/or the cost of private high school/university starts to loom that mothers start to look for work to help boost the family finances.

Providing work opportunities for these women who have been 'out of the loop' for upwards of a decade and who at present have a 'choice' between working the till at the local supermarket and working the till at the local conbini, would do a lot to help the women of Japan. Lifetime career spots and tenure on the board of directors for the few, with kids needs must shoved into day care, not so much.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

JapanToday Headlines:

"Abe tells Harvard he's trying to improve status of women in Japan"

"Only 4 women elected mayor in local elections"

Anyone else see the correlation between these two headlines? I don't.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Abe said through an interpreter. “My role is to lead the nation to think of itself again as the Little Engine That Could.”

gotta' love his use of this parable. Too accurate.
0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anyone else see the correlation between these two headlines? I don't.

I do. The people who elected mostly men in local elections are the general public. So, Abe wants to improve status of women to change the mindset of general public.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

And how do you know they are resentful?

@Strangerland

For one, hearing it every single day from my own wife — endless tirades about how one friend or another has a husband with a higher salary than mine, while that friend spends the day after day pursuing her hobby.

For another, what I have seen/heard from Japanese female family friends who also work. Although they often don't reveal their resentment in the workplace, they certainly do behind closed doors and amongst themselves.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

“My role is to lead the nation to think of itself again as the Little Engine That Could.” - article

Embarrassing. You'd have to go back to Bush's "My Pet Goat" to find an analogy. Comical.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The moral of this article is everyone here hates Abe no matter what he says or does even if the article is read or unread.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

I'm pretty sure he was expecting that question about WWII Sex Slavery. I hope so anyway. That's Harvard University. One would hope that the student body at Harvard Uni would be able to see right through the political BS.

I hope that tough questions are still on the horizon.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I like to start my day with a good chuckle!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The moral of this article is everyone here hates Abe no matter what he says or does even if the article is read or unread.

I'm not trying to insult you, but do you think there's a valid reason for that?

In a way, you bring up a point. Do we, as people hold our leaders to unrealistic expectations that they cannot fill or do we genuinely believe that they have the capability to change everything with a strong declaration or a pen stroke? Perhaps people in general are too hard on leaders. They have many responsibilities and tasks. But sometimes, there are times where leaders can step up and truly make a difference, and they aren't striving to do so, or maybe, they just aren't capable of doing it.

We live in an idealistic society. We watch many movies and television shows where leaders truly love their people and are strong and capable; they abhor corruption and seek equality for everyone. And of course, we watch the opposite of that in real life and we question how that is.

Anyway... Went off on a tangent there. Back to the Abe bashing.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Black Sabbath, About the request for data on Sensato's comment. I can concur with him. Would living here for 35 years be enough 1st hand Data for you?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Gender Gap Report 2013 by World Economic Forum

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2013.pdf

Page 49, Table D1: Labour force participation

Malawi F:85%, M:80% F/M ratio 1.06, Rank 1

Mozambique F:87%, M:83%, F/M ratio 1.05, Rank 2

Burundi F:85%, M 83%, F/M ratio 1.03, Rank 3

Tanzania F:90%, M:91% F/M ratio 0.99, Rank 4

Lao PDR F:80%, M:82%, F/M ratio 0.99, Rank 5

United States F:67%, M:78%, F/M ratio 0.86, Rank 40

United Kingdom F:69%, M:81%, F/M ratio 0.85, Rank 47

Japan F:63%, F:85%, F/M ratio 0.74, Rank 79

Which country is the best place for women? The interpritation of these data is rather hard.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

If Abe and the LDP want to be treated seriously on this issue, then he better make some big changes to maternity (and paternity) leave, wage inequality between sexes and education. Hope women can break the glass ceiling.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

that will means destroying everything what people know about japan such as Hentai manga/anime/literature/game or any Weird Game show that has women in bikini or involving indecent situation. Basically anything involving erotic stuff, this is included gravue idol also AV idol. Not only that, its mean they have to take down AKB48 and related to them unless they change their prospect business.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry. It should have been,

Japan F:63%, M:85%, F/M ratio 0.74, Rank 79

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Abe tells Harvard he's trying to improve status of women in Japan

No, he doesn't. Abe's agenda is not women's empowerment. He's simply trying to double the size of Japan's workforce as a short-term measure to compensate for the growing number of pensioners and decreasing workforce supporting the pensioners.

The way he's doing this is by increasing taxes and increasing food prices (primarily by weakening the yen - more than 70% of Japan's food is imported) thereby creating pressure on families to increase their income by making women work.

In short he's deliberately bullying women into working, and that's not empowerment.

And the bottom line is that his plan won't actually help at all, because it isn't empowering anyone, won't address the insane working conditions in Japan that are driving the lack of young people, and is economic suicide. All because he's a xenophobe who won't turn to the obvious solution... immigration.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Nice window dressing

2 ( +3 / -1 )

abe is a shrewd politician. by constantly drawing attention to his policy goal of empowering women, he kills two birds with one stone. first, and most importantly, he can expand his voter base by reaching out to women. second, he can deflect criticism of japan's past misdeeds regarding the exploitation of women through sexual slavery. so far, it's working because the ldp has a stranglehold on state and local politics.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Aah, what a shock it must be for this guy to leave his little islands and enter a country where people are taught and encouraged to question authority and not just accept what they are fed by the erai people. Bet he got a little tummy ache when that question came along.

I always get my hopes restored when young people all over the world show that they are thinking creatures. I wish the same could be said for Japan...

3 ( +8 / -5 )

There is no mentioning of this protest. As usually USA has riot and so some protests do not get an attention. Baltimore riot stories only. Calif protesters wasted money. They should wait Abe coming to CA.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The moral of this article is everyone here hates Abe no matter what he says or does even if the article is read or unread.

Abe is as likable as a car crash, that's why, Dude. The guy's got no charm, no sense of rethoric, can't smile, and, most of all, when the words leave his mouth, you can feel they are dishonest ones, only meant to dupe the uneducated masses of which Japan has pleanty. He can do no right because he chooses to do no right.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Abe tells Harvard he's trying to improve status of women in Japan

By putting more nationalist, right-wing, war atrocity-denying women in the cabinet and staying silent when women support apartheid?

Gimme a break.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Knox HarringtonApr. 28, 2015 - 10:25AM JST

What is your rationale for your opinion of Abe?

Oh, and I bet your opinion does not come from what erai people, such as major news media, told you to believe.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

CH3CHO. nice stats, thanks. irony is that it shows that the labour force participation numbers actually prove nothing. note that many impoverished African countries that are very male dominated are in the top rankings as in those countries some men can afford to take it easy while making their wife (or in some cases wives) work to support them.....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

CH3CHO is quite right. Participation stats say little or nothing about the status of women in a given society. In my experience Japan is at two extremes on this. many women have high status and good jobs or totally run their families. and then at the other end their is wide acceptance of sexual exploitation and other discrimination against women. But overall I think i would rather be a woman in Japan than a number of other countries i have lived in or travelled to.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think women status in Japan is quite ok. More freedom and autonomy.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

"“I will be fearless going forward because there is in Japan among its people a strong and growing desire to pursue reforms,”

Yeah, right! You mean in the agricultural sector? What about other 'traditions' that Japan subsidizes for no reason whatsoever and when you point it out people just call it an attack on tradition and customs? How about the fact that despite Japan being in DESPERATE need of immigration reform, they are refusing to budge on it because it might "change Japan"? How about the fact that in Abe's snap election, which 'proved his mandate', there was the lowest turn out of female candidates for the LDP in particular? Most importantly, how about the fact that while Abe put a few racist, key women in power positions (who were later forced to resign because of scandals), he has not helped women on the lower rung of society one wit? What has he done to enforce "mata-hara" laws, or sexual harassment in general?

All lip-service, and since the people at Harvard who have to hear this speech can't see what's actually happening and the fact that not only is Japan NOT in favor of reform but is headed backwards under this man, they just listen and applaud him for mere words.

If he TRULY wants to reform Japan and make the lives better for women, he needs to remove old codgers like himself who put in the glass ceilings, insist women are baby-making machines and that women have to "do their part" to increase the population of Japan (while cutting family taxes that would serve as incentive), etc.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

The rate list shows employee rate very well. How about rate of supervisor/manager/executive rate? Can someone provide?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"My role is to lead the nation to think of itself again as the Little Engine That Could.”

Here's the thing, Abe-san. Japan is not a "little engine" by any stretch of the imagination, nor has it been for the better part of 40 years. It's the 3rd largest economy in the world and still commands an almost ridiculous amount of clout in world financial markets, despite some 20 years of economic stagnation. That's a lot to crow about. On the contracy, Japan is the the Little Engine That Did Quite Well.

What Abe needs to focus on is preventing all that from unravelling, particularly when utterly uncalled for energies are being wasted on recasting Japan as some sort of regional military powerhouse with moral authority to assert its will on issues vital to economic growth in a way that the pacifist constitution has and continues to serve quite ably and admirably.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Abe tells Harvard he's trying to improve status of women in Japan" And achieving mind-blowingly awesome results so far. In todays news :

"The overall percentage of women winning in the mayoral races for cities, towns and villages was also a record high, an increase of 0.4 of a point from the 2011 elections to 1.8 percent."

With such mighty RECORD numbers as 1.8% above the Harvard students would just have to be undoubtedly impressed. ;)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Abe tells Harvard he's trying to improve status of women in Japan

Trying...........and failing, while meanwhile downplaying Japan's involvement in the recruitment of sex slaves. If Abe wants to empower women he needs to be more transparent

2 ( +6 / -4 )

first, and most importantly, he can expand his voter base by reaching out to women.

Totally anecdotal, but my impression is that Abe is not 'reaching out to women' with his policies at all, quite the opposite in fact. Ever-rising food prices, food shortages (butter, anyone?) increased taxes are not policies that most women in charge of the family purse strings find attractive. And most women I have spoken to find his desire for すべての女性が輝く社会づくり (the creation of a society in which all women can shine) to be positively insulting (He thinks we don't shine already? Who is he to decide who shines? Does he shine?). It isn't all about how many rats there are in the race, or how many boy rats vs girl rats.

he's deliberately bullying women into working, and that's not empowerment.

Yes.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

It's a multi-faceted problem. On the one hand, the old boys club that run corporate Japan will never have female managers in their ranks. Never in a million years. Women are treated very poorly in these companies, with sexual harassment being rife & the pay gap ever-widening.

On the other hand, there's a significant percentage of women who will never want to give up the 'Minato ward housewife' life. This shouldn't be misconstrued nor take anything away from the hardworking women of the workforce. They should be given every opportunity possible to climb up the corporate ladder. Sadly, this being Japan, the ladder is basically non-existant for most.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That WAS Japan, you mean, Sighclops, no? There is a NEW Japan rising, no?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

PM Abe's remark at Harvard University yesterday that Japan would spare no efforts to support Nepal's recovery from the earthquake tragedy is a welcome statement coming at this juncture. Nepal has suffered because houses and buildings there had not been constructed to withstand earthquake shocks at all . Japan has vast experience and expertise in dealing with tremors and can play an important role in construction of modern houses buildings smart cities and other infrastructure in the whole subcontinent on modern scientific lines.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

PM Abe's remark at Harvard University yesterday that Japan would spare no efforts to support Nepal's recovery from the earthquake tragedy is a welcome statement coming at this juncture.

It suits Abe to appear generous with overseas aid. It's too difficult for him to directly compensate the WW2 sex slaves, or even give them an apology however

4 ( +7 / -3 )

@TinaWatanabe

Abe wants to improve status of women to change the mindset of general public.

For once I agree with you. Change comes very slowly except when there's social proof from opinion leaders. Having said that, good news often flies under the radar:

@Sighclops,

the old boys club that run corporate Japan will never have female managers in their ranks. Never in a million years

Check this Financial Times article on Haruno Yoshida, appointed vice-chairman of the Board of Councillors at Keidanren (old boys club par excellence)

“I’ve lived 50 years, but I’ve never seen momentum like this,” she says.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/1e9aeab0-c357-11e4-9c27-00144feab7de.html#axzz3YZoV8C30

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A little "hiniku" (ironic) that the next story on the politics page is....

Only 4 women elected mayor in local elections POLITICS APR. 28, 2015 - 06:55AM JST ( 15 )

lol

3 ( +5 / -2 )

He is? How? I've not noticed, quite the contrary in fact.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ah, yes! Women's rights in Japan! You have the right to do what you are told by your male colleagues. You have the right to accept lower salary than a man for the same job. You have the right to do ALL of the cooking and cleaning and to prepare his lunch box every day. You have the right to bring up your children alone while your husband goes drinking with his colleagues. You have the right to be 'proxy mother' for the man you married. And finally, you have the right to accept these conditions regardless of circumstance. It seems like women have a lot of rights in Japan. (Sarcasm)

4 ( +9 / -5 )

women;s rights in the US has a stellar record !, well may not so much., sure women finally made in-roads with the workplace in the late 60's early 70's due to necessity of a weak economy and rising prices, but it tok until this century for women to really get in to middle management.

even then women still are not in senior management or regularly on boards of directors

what i am saying is - this takes time , and a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration including child care options, need, want/drive for steady employment over home life and, yes, available job growth

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Same old story, 'We'll attempt to try to see if we can do something...."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wrote this comment on Abe Shinzo piece in Bloomberg:

Fact number one: Japan ranks near the bottom of OECD countries in various aspects of empowering women (they beat Korea, which is at the very bottom).

Fact number two: the imperial Japan that Abe Shinzo remembers so fondly was one of the major perpetrators of systematic measures that harmed the "honor and dignity" of women. So there need to be some specific obligation on the part of Japan to make amends and not a hint that "every body else was raping women" and Japan only bears the brunt because it lost the war.

Fact number three: Japan remains a huge bastion of human trafficking, teenaged prostitution, and child pornography, and violence against women is a shockingly prevalent phenomenon for what is outwardly a law-abiding society.

It is indeed commendable that Japan is willing to devote resources to help women in developing countries. There is not a little element of dancing to the American tune. Women's empowerment is a big deal for Caroline Kennedy and for the Obamas, too. So it is nice for Abe Shinzo to display the much nicer Akie-san to soften his image, but in the end Abe Shinzo heads an administration that denies responsibility for war time sexual slavery and which has right wing extremist women ministers like Takaichi, Yamatani, and Arimura as the true face of the Abe Shinzo version of empowerment.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@Danny Bloom

That WAS Japan, you mean, Sighclops, no? There is a NEW Japan rising, no?

I wish that were the case. Very much alive & well (for lack of a better term), I'm afraid.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Prime Minister and his government can start with clothing. I went to the shop to get some socks. I found three pair at Y450. Has I was walking out, I see the exact three pairs of sock made by same company. They were Y350. I wonder why there was a different in price. It was because the Y450 pairs of socks I pick up were in the womens section and the cheaper socks were in the men section!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I am anxious to read a transcript of his speech in (official) English translation. Is it going to be published somewhere?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not so many Japanese right-wing history white-washers believe their words now.

^ Fixed that for you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In any event, I think that Japan needs to realise that Westerners as Simone de Beauvoir argued, see humans as base upon a model of mankind, and that on a more balanced view, it is not a given that taking part in the workforce is a good thing for everyone, nor that "empowering women" in the OECD (Western) viewpoint means women being CEO's and politicians rather than controlling their homes, their finances, and the people around them as many "entitled" Japanese women do. The OECD empowerment index is again a male-style-empowerment index and does not include for example "Is your husband on a 'pocket money' system, or does he give you 'housekeeping'?". The commercialisation of sex In Japan, though in many ways deplorable, may be related to the lack of sex work or anticipated-sexual-recompense-for-economic-activity in Japanese homes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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