politics

Abe to launch women's version of Davos forum

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The country has one of the lowest rates of female workforce participation in the developed world and most economists agree it badly needs to boost the number of working women to grow its economy as the population rapidly ages.

I certainly hope that Abe is doing this for the right reasons, and not strictly for some good international PR due to the recent incident in the Tokyo assembly. Because, as highlighted above, Japan has no real track record to point to in this area. And I hope Abe is smart and makes that unfortunate assembly woman chairwoman, or some other important board post for the conference. That would send a clear message.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

“Women have the greatest potential, and allowing them to demonstrate their full abilities is the core of our growth strategy,”

Excellent !! . .. Establishing gender equity takes time - - - for those of us from No America, remember the icons such as Bella Absug, Gloria Steinem, and on and on . . the bra burnings - - -Consciousness -raising takes time. . . And it will require legislation to ensure the shift is executed within institutional structures.,

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Abe is considered Japanese conservative but when women issues come, he is way liberal. Quite a while he has been trying to let Japanese corporations employ, promote women employees. He did not start to promote female this year of last year. He was the first Japanese PM who promoted a lady as his Cabiinet Aide in Japan. Past history of Abe, including he let his wife to claim Domestic Opposition Party, listening and following his wife's demand to quit PM last time he was PM, he is not with out-of-dated Oyajis. This is not PR. He truly believes women are important elements in Japanese society.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

This is nothing but PR. If Abe was seriously, he would demand to find out who made those comments from HIS party in Tokyo, would start building daycares all over the place, would start paying for child birth, demand better mat leave and demand that companies follow through on the mat and pat leave already offered. A joke. Abe, anyone can see through this.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Great news for our beautiful and smart Japanese wives, girlfriends, and daughters. Very glad to see Abe is committed to this particular change.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

The conservative Abe has been pushing to boost the number of working women in Japan to help kickstart growth in the world’s number three economy.

He and some of his colleagues have for once seriously looked ahead and come to the conclusion that if they don't increase their workforce Japan WILL have to reform and increase immigration in unimaginable terms and this option is COMPLETELY unpalatable for him and the majority of Japanese. They now realize that to increase the population and workforce without making huge changes to immigration policy, in the minds of some, it WILL be necessary to include more Japanese women by forcing more equality in the business sector and encouraging more women to not leave their careers upon getting married by providing better child care and incentives to have more children.

If he really wants to increase the birthrate and encourage more women to extend their careers he will fall far short of his goal as it will require changing the mindset of women themselves and Japanese society, not the business sector, and how they views the woman's role in it. The majority of Japanese will not easily accept women sharing a career and so-called women's duties at home so easily and that is where the problem lies. That may well need to start in the Japanese education system for it to have any real success to teach young girls they have more options then what roles they are presently taught.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Just wants photo-ops.

Why not hold it in Fukushima?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Makes me sick to my stomach. Davos is already gender mixed without the need of addressing it to be so. Other then that its a waste of time and resources. Nothing good comes out of Davos forums. Except a world or IMF leader speaking to the world "we need more stimulus!", " this year we will see x economy grow!". Garbage. And an all female Davos will be be equally needless.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Wrong leader, wrong location, wrong agenda. An economic conference in Switzerland makes sense, an conference on women and economics in Tokyo makes no sense. Japan is one of the worst countries for women in the world and the LDP is largely responsible. Maybe Abe should work on some new laws first?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

how ironic.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"and deeply entrenched sexism are blamed for keeping women at home...

It bears mentioning that the sexism at work comes from both sides of the equation. There are an alarming number of women in Japan who feel they not only can't work, but also shouldn't even have to work, believing that particular societal role lies solely with males. Obviously, this is a deeply engrained cultural issue, but it's an issue nonetheless.

“...allowing [women] to demonstrate their full abilities is the core of our growth strategy,” Abe said

Yes, but not just allowing. Japanese society also needs to actively encourage women here to want to demonstrate their full abilities. Increasingly, girls tend to outperform their male peers in academics across the board in Japanese public schools. Yet their talent still remains largely untapped. All that lost potential for innovation. All that lost productivity. And for what? Because standing alongside those willing women who are effectively barred from positions that reqire innovation and diligence are other Japanese women who frown upon the very concept of women working in any meaningful capacity beyond Office Lady or Yakult Girl. It's as pervasive as it is corrosive.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

if you want higher female employment, then get rid of all the oyajis running the companies in japan. since that ain't happening, not much will change in japan's workforce in the foreseeable future.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to launch a female-focused version of the Davos economic forum, as part of a wider push to boost the number of women in the workforce at home, he said in an interview published Tuesday.

Whoat? He needs to fix a male dominated culture and society in Japan first. This reminds me a drunk OYAJI with many mistresses telling his kids to go to church to behave. FUNNY.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's always good to see progress like this, makes me wonder when Japan will have their first female prime minister?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Davos is a club for the powerful economic and political elite that have entrenched a neoliberal economic model that has only increase the income and wealth gaps around the world and further enriched themselves. So do we need another club for women elite who think and act much the same way as the men?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Pull a rabbit out of a hat!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

PR attempt, because he is yet to get off the mark whether in Abenomics or his relations with close neighbors.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How about doing something about the totally crap wages many workers men and particularly women have to suffer?? How is abe going to get women to flood the labor market when wages of only 700 to 1000 yen an hour are offered?? Minimum wage should be at least 1500 an hour.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's all "urging", "encouraging" and "pushing". There is no real action, no new laws, no enforcement of existing laws, no payment for childbirth, no guarantee of childcare facilities, no guarantee of equal pay, no guarantee of re-employment at the same level after maternity leave etc. etc. Due to demographic change, Japan is starting to run out of workers, especially for crap jobs. Abe does not really want women challenging men, he only wants women doing the tedious low-paid work that would otherwise lead to increased immigration. Japan ranks 101st in global surveys for gender quality, which is appalling, and will not even attempt to force through equal pay legislation or the basics tenets of Japan's existing labour laws.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Looking on it as a 'women's issue' and trying to find a 'women's solution' with a 'women's Davos' is meaningless. The composition of the workforce is a social issue and as such needs a social approach. Start with educating young girls and boys that there are more options open to them, regardless of gender. Make it easier and more socially acceptable for fathers to take extended child-care leave on an equal footing with mothers. Discontinue the tax/health insurance/pension advantages for men with childless, non-working wives.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan ranks 101st in global surveys for gender quality, which is appalling

105 actually. 101 was the rank two years ago. It's gotten worse under Abe, not better.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japan ranks 101st in global surveys for gender quality, which is appalling

105 actually. 101 was the rank two years ago. It's gotten worse under Abe, not better.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Japan ranks 101st in global surveys for gender quality, which is appalling

105 actually. 101 was the rank two years ago. It's gotten worse under Abe, not better.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Maybe this will be his fourth arrow? Oh, wait, did he already shoot of the third one?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

would start paying for child birth,

BTW if one has insurance here, it does!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

BTW if one has insurance here, it does! Wrong. There is a baby bonus that helps pay - and for some, does cover most of the costs - but many, many couples will be out of pocket for many yennies because check ups, testing, delivery and after care is not covered by health insurance here - hence why people pay up front and get money back later. Hospitals and clinics here pretty much charge exactly what is offered in the area but for anyone who has issues and needs more check ups, they pay. It should be free. As in, all appointments, any treatments, meds, painkillers, scans... this is NOT the case right now.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Tmarie.

You are wrong most hospital fees include checkups. If there are medical problems than insurance covers like any standard sickness for both mother and child.

Childbirth is considered a medical condition and thus is only covered in case of complications. BTW, we got about 3man of diapers, baby-food, etc when we left the hospital.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

check ups, testing, delivery and after care is not covered by health insurance here

That's not entirely true. The local government will give you about 10 "tickets" for the check ups, making them essentially free (you pay about 1000 yen). You also get 420,000 yen for the delivery and 5 day stay, which covers over 90% of the bill in most hospitals. I don't know what you mean by "after care," but there's one check up afterwards for the mother, and all subsequent check ups for the baby are free (free health care for kids up to 15 years old in ward of Tokyo).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

anyone who has issues and needs more check ups, they pay

If they're medical issues, they're covered by the normal health insurance.

I can understand the idea of free childbirth if the aim is to simply produce more babies, but as a general principle or as a tactic for getting more women in the workforce, I don't see it. As a general principle, pregnancy and childbirth are not illnesses but are self-inflicted, and if you can't afford the birth, you can't afford a baby (though, also as a general principle, I think the baby, who has no say in the matter, should get the best care available, but that's for the baby's sake, not the parents'; I'm all for free medical care for children up to the age of, say, 18); as a tactic for getting more women in the workforce, surely the need to earn more yen to pay for babies would be an incentive for women to work instead of staying home?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

No, I am not wrong. The comment was "BTW if one has insurance here, it does!" Child birth is NOT considered a medical condition - hence it not being covered under insurance. Hence you getting a lump sum when all is said and done and this may not cover the cost for it all - for most, it does not. Hence my comment that things should be free.

Here are a few links.

http://japanhealthinfo.com/pregnancy-and-childbirth/pregnancy-and-delivery-costs/ "Japanese Health Insurance does not cover prenatal checkups, but you can use discount or free coupons provided by your local city."

http://www.nic-nagoya.or.jp/en/e/archives/4746 "You should be aware that the public health insurance systems do not cover the costs of pregnancy and giving birth, however, if you are covered by Japanese health insurance you will be able to claim (as of January 2009) a lump-sum reimbursement of 380,000 Yen (350,000 Yen in some cases)."

BTW, we got about 3man of diapers, baby-food, etc when we left the hospital. Great for you but not every hospital and clinic does the same.

The local government will give you about 10 "tickets" for the check ups, making them essentially free (you pay about 1000 yen). "About" which is proving my point. Not every local government offers the same amount and it is NOT fully covered. Some places offer nine, some offer 14. Some clinics expect you to go every three weeks when the government guidelines are every four for the first few months. Those extra appointments that are required by those clinics are not required. And 1000 yen? Maybe at a hospital but not at a clinic. So if you go 14 times and have 14 coupons that, that is 14,000 yen, right? What if you live in a city that only offers nine? NOT covered and out of pocket for the parents.

You also get 420,000 yen for the delivery and 5 day stay, which covers over 90% of the bill in most hospitals. Depends on your local government. Some hospitals and clinics demand six days or seven days. Guess who gets to pay for that? The parents. Guess who gets to pay for that 10%? The parents. Hence my point - which is you are helping prove BTW as you've given figures that clearly show it costs families here to have a baby. For a country that needs kids, shouldn't this all be free?

I don't know what you mean by "after care," but there's one check up afterwards for the mother, and all subsequent check ups for the baby are free (free health care for kids up to 15 years old in ward of Tokyo). Perhaps at the place you went to. Again, some places demand more checks and some women suffer from complications related to birth - prolonged bleeding, torn stiches... Not 100% covered. Guess who pays?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I agree it is "self-inflicted" and yes, if you can't afford to pay to have a baby, you can't afford to have one but at this rate, any incentive to have kids for women here would help. I know a lot of families here with zero or one kid because they can't afford to pay all themedical costs upfront. Making it free would help - and maybe mom or dad gets a raise or a better job in the future. As someone from a country where it is free, and totally free unless you want genetic testing (and even that is covered at times) it shocks me that a country pushing women to work, pushing women to have more kids... these costs are not totally covered. Abe isn't serious about getting into the workforce in fair and decent positions, he wants cheap labour but isn't willing to help them out.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

For a country that needs kids, shouldn't this all be free?

It wouldn't be 'free', it would be out of taxes, and I thought you were opposed to the use of your tax money for such things...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

No, not at all. I have never, ever been against taxes being used for health care, education... best of luck next time.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The lack of women in the workforce is a world wide epidemic (wwe) that at least Abe is addressing, but what his true motives are is unclear. In the US girls are still not encouraged to get into the male dominated fields of engineering, construction and sciences. I had a friend who became a Master Electrician in the city of New York, but due to the old boy network had to move out of the city to obtain work. There were, for several years, a add campaign to attract women into the construction trades, but that proved to be a lot of hot air and did not have the results that its objectives were about; no substantial influx of women into the construction trades or unions. So, how does the world address the gender gap that exists in the industrialized nations; which includes Japan as the third industrialized nation?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have never, ever been against taxes being used for health care, education

I was in error then, and apologize. Your posts against taxes being used to support SAHMs led me to falsely assume you would be against subsidies for childbirth. I'm sorry for making the assumption.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No worries. I wish the system here provided 100% coverage for everyone - working or not - tax paying or not. It upsets me greatly though that folks like housewives get free coverage based on their husband when a single working mom or the working poor who can't afford the insurance are not covered. Should be free for all - more so when I look at how much tax I and others pay here.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

it costs families here to have a baby

That is your view and I respect that. For my second kid, we paid about 100,000 yen out of pocket for everything : check ups, delivery, etc. We get 15,000 yen child allowance a month from the country, so one year (180,000 yen) more than covers that. Back in my country (USA) I would have to pay 10 times as much : $10,000 Thus, I would argue that it does not cost us a lot of money to have a baby in Japan. If a family cannot afford 100,000 yen, they should invest in condoms instead.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2352687/How-cost-giving-birth-U-S-TRIPLED-1996-9-775--thanks-expensive-fees-epidural-placenta-removal.html

6 ( +5 / -0 )

I think where you are from plays a roll in your opinion on this - mine as well. As a Canadian, things are covered AND there is a baby/child support given. My point being, you still paid 100,000 yen for the birth of a baby so folks on here suggesting it is free are incorrect - health insurance or not. Many families here can't afford the payments upfront - as I pointed out. Expecting soon to be parents to cough up a million or so is a lot of cash. More so if they are young and dispatch workers.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

In the US girls are still not encouraged to get into the male dominated fields of engineering, construction and sciences

Kristiana -- as opposed to Japan where they are encouraged to go into the field of pouring tea. Japan would love to have the "problem" you cite.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japan really does need to provide free prenatal care. I never make sense to say that a pregnancy is "self-inflicted". The society requires children or there will be no society. The countries with the best healthcare do cover this. Bad things can happen to children as fetuses. If the mother isn't taken care of during pregnancy, the children will suffer and will society. It doesn't take much to drop a child's IQ a few points or compromise health. The society will be paying in one way or another for some 80 years by Japanese standards.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Hampton and TMarie - Please don't quote the infamous gender "equality" survey in which Japan consistently ranks near the bottom. This survey's scores are simple ratios where women's levels are divided by men's levels. When the gap is in favor of women, the gap isn't measured anymore, and a "perfect" score of 1.000 is assigned.

Quoting directly from the top of page 4 of the 2013 survey:

The third distinguishing feature of the Global Gender Gap Index is that it ranks countries according to their proximity to gender equality rather than to women’s empowerment. Our aim is to focus on whether the gap between women and men in the chosen indicators has declined, rather than whether women are “winning” the “battle of the sexes”. Hence, the Index rewards countries that reach the point where outcomes for women equal those for men, but it neither rewards nor penalizes cases in which women are outperforming men in particular indicators.

This is propaganda that Orwell would shake his head at. "Equality" is now a one-way street where no penalty is issued when the supported side has the advantage. This can be seen in the 30-way ties for the "top" score in all the countries where women live longer than men, and where more girls go on to college than boys.

Taken to its logical conclusion, an imaginary female-supremacist society where only women were allowed to become legislators, go on to tertiary education, and have jobs, and had twice the life expectancy of its men, would receive a perfect score, despite being a dystopia that no one of either sex would want to live in.

Now you might say that Japan (or name another country) has plenty of gender inequality even if this survey measured it badly, but in that case conduct a fair survey with meaningful statistics. There's nothing wrong with activists setting up scales that favor their interests, but in this case they're presenting the stats as if they're neutral, and creating a convenient soundbite for the media which deserves a lot more criticism and scrutiny than it gets. Japan deserves no opprobrium at all for ranking 101st or 105th on this flawed survey's scale -- the survey itself is biased, propagandistic junk science.

And to get back to Abe, I don't think for a minute that a real gender-free society is part of his agenda. He wants women in the work force so that he can double the consumer price index with families working twice as hard to keep up. Kids in daycare rather than at home also means more consumption and more taxes paid. A few decades from now when everyone's savings have been destroyed and it takes two incomes just to keep a roof over your head, will today's young women really be happy about what has been done?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If the workforce needs to be increased there is a huge pool of tertiary educated students that could learn just as much on the job as they do at some of the tertiary aimed schooling. Semon gakkous etcetcetc, even I would suggest some unis, a bunch of young adults who could work hard, at their prime for energy, just sitting around feeding the education system all their parents incomes. imo it would be a lot healthier society if appenticships were encouraged more, more money to the community, which would stimulate spending in other areas as well.....Pity that it is so looked down on by the middle-aged generation. Wonder what it is, parents needing to be needed, or teachers needing to be needed? in any case this would then leave mothers to be mothers without further feeding the big construction/education business sector for child-minding facilities which lets face it are just child-molding programs. Or has the society been so molded that thinking out of the box like this is just too difficult for most?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thon, can you come up with any suggestions as to where women in Japan have it better then the men? I mean, besides all that free tinme they have? Where do anything "favour" women in this country?

Or has the society been so molded that thinking out of the box like this is just too difficult for most? Too difficult and too "mendokusai".

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Thon, can you come up with any suggestions as to where women in Japan have it better then the men? I mean, besides all that free tinme they have? Where do anything "favour" women in this country?

Tmarie, "anything"? Well, a much longer life expectancy, the freedom to put their families ahead of their jobs (and it is infinitely easier for a woman to break out of gender roles and devote herself to a career than it is for a man to be a SAHD), a much lower chance of being killed or injured on the job (97% of karoshi victims are men), the ability to quit one's job without much social opprobrium. These are things that Taro Salaryman would love to have. And then he has to go home to read in a newspaper that Japanese society favors him.

You yourself have commented on how these poor salarymen's wives live lives of leisure and take every advantage of a system designed to favor them. So when I read one of these surveys that purports to be about equality but then focuses only on one side of the equation, and then uses weasel words to claim that it isn't being as grossly dishonest as it pretends to be, it can be pretty galling.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

None of that is related to work, econmics nor that topic at hand. I think you knew well enough I meant something related but thanks.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

some of these articles expire very quickly ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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