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IMF's Lagarde urges Japan to increase women's participation in work force


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Not going to happen. The Japanese government is attempting to "encourage" women to have more children and that is a priorty for the Japan. The childcare facilities are extremely expensive compared with most other developed countries and most women have to stay home to take care of their children. Problem is Japan ranks very low in terms of women's economic and political power and equal opportunity means unequal opportunity. You notice the women in management is in the single digit. Not much change from two-three decades ago.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I saw her interview with Charlie Rose last night. She's well aware of why women are underemployed in Japan. Hopefully, the Japanese government can do more to make it easier for women to enter the workforce. www.youtube.com/watch?v=29JoEni46T0

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Why is this an issue with her? Butt out!

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A lot of times women don't realize they have a choice, or they don't take the risk to act on it. The economy affects how most people feel about their jobs, but men and women react differently: men will blame others while women will blame themselves.

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Abe has pledged to focus efforts on boosting female participation in the labor force, which lags behind the level in many other developed economies despite high education and health standards for Japanese women.>

Thanks, Christine, but the government's got it covered.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

about “what the timetable is, and what the extent of the reform is.”

Don't expect much of an answer. And don't expect any progress on the female issue either.

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Would someone PLEASE tell ms lagarde to mind her own?

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

This is another one of Abe's campaign promises that have not come to fruition. If they were serious about getting women back into the workplace they would have taken steps to eliminate the prejudices in the workplace against women, including equal pay, but they have done bugger all. It was just more campaign rhetoric from the right-wing cronies.

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So send Japan down the road of poverty. A richer nation affords women to stay home in a lucrative situation with children and doing more creative things.

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Great. Urge them to go back to work when there are already massive daycare waitlists, fathers working insane amount of hours and doing very little around the house and insane amounts of pressure on women to be baby factories. I 100% understand where IMF is coming from but there are numerous things that need to be done before more women are actually able to go back to work. Why not stress better work/life balance and support for those working moms already? Stay at home women are looking at those working and thinking "no freaken way" - and I don't blame them for that when Japan makes it so damn difficult. That being said, things really won't change until the women step up and demand change.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Japan is too smart to ruin their economy by adopting the foolishness of the west.

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

Japan is too smart to ruin their economy by adopting the foolishness of the west.

I think you should be outside washing your black van instead of stirring up racism on this site!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Wow! This should excite me to no end! And yet, it does not. Because policies should not come from outward in, but from inward out. Sure, we want more open oportunities for our daughters, wives, mothers, even grandmothers who have need of employment and have good ideas and wasted energy. Sure there are women wasting away prematurely in homes because they have little or no social interaction with the community at large. I see many women (especially rural "oyomei-san") who devote themselves to taking sole responsibility for aging parents, spouses, children and then grandchildren, and can never leave their home for any length of time. "I have to be home by noon to make lunch for my retired husband," some say (who is NOT disabled or ill)!!

There is also a HUGE need for women to be supported by society, for example men need to be home to share in housework and child care so that women are not only "free to pursue their careers" at the same time taking kids to and from daycare and getting days off for their illnesses, having to be on local committees, and other obligations they have. How about decreasing the after work company drinking meetings that have fathers come home sloshed (if they make it home at all without falling onto the rails)?

But, what I take issue is that this has anything to do with the IMF at all. The issue exists. It is a huge problem. But, it has nothing to do with the IMF. Go on about the business of printing money and stay away from policies about women.Lagarde is amazing and a hard worker. Did the IMF help France to help her become a successful woman with opportunities? I feel little relief thinking that my rights, my daughter's rights are in the hands of the IMF!!

I want Japan to be a better place and I want Japanese men and women, young and elderly to want to make Japan a better place from within.

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What many outsiders may not know is that Japan may have laws against discrimmination but many companies to this day pay women less than men for doing the same work. If you ask me, it's obvious that's where the reform should start. Why focus on more women to "participate" in the work force when such a fundamental labor law is not being enforced or is so easily abused?

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tmarie nailed it basically, work-life balance is awful for the majority in Japan, ESPECIALLY for women.

Until Japan re-invents itself the rot will continue, until the locals realize the road they are on & THEY want to change it the ROT will continue.

Sorry Laguarde just focusing only on getting more women into the workforce will solve ONE problem, but that alone will create MORE problems.

A lot of Japans problems cant be tackled individually without making others worse and/or creating more problems.

Like I have said about, time to re-invent or continue to rot, sadly the latter is unlikely to change until the rot stinks to god awful levels, thank goodness we don't have kids in this country, the future gets dimmer by the day!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Fact is Japan just doesn't want to change. They need to, they have to but they will delay it until demographic realities drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Sadly this will occur sometime around the start of the 22nd...

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Calls for gender quotas in workplace... read it and weep,

'Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, said she had been opposed to quotas until a moment early in her career when she was told she would not progress because she was a woman'.

Margaret Thatcher, “ Anyone who is worth their salt rises up through the ranks naturally'.


Christine Lagarde is trying to bulldoze the mistaken premise that 'body difference' should be a factor in recruitment, and has proposed 'women only' short lists, this rancid form of political correctness is an insult to all those women who want to stand on their own (moi especially).

Finance Minister Taro Aso must stand firm and insist Japan will find its own solution based on equality, encompassing merit alongside family orientated government employment policy.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Different genders showing statistically different life choices, no one could have predicted this without a moments thought.

Women at home who are taking care of children can't be taxed but if they get pulled out of the home and the children are sent to child colonies that can change.

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What many outsiders may not know is that Japan may have laws against discrimmination but many companies to this day pay women less than men for doing the same work.

It's not only the pay issue, but also the rampant sexual harassment. I mean, the stuff that goes on should be raising all sorts of alarms...

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The reason why politicians like Lagarde here comes up with such an idea is because they learned from what the U.S did during the WWII and 1960-70's years. Have women join the work force to create more tax cattle live stock for the state. The IMF of course literally lives off the taxes of all membership nations. How exactly does one accomplish this? Easy, simply make it harder for house holds to be supported by 1 person (usually the husband) so that both parents are forced to work just to make ends meet. While Jr gets less and less parent-child bonding time and more exposure to Govt propaganda via Govt funded schools and day care.

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Lagarde ... so equality of gender comes from working not being confident staying at home and happy looking after kids?

They need more slaves.... for sure.

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Neither the government nor the oyaji who run all the major companies (mainly badly and illegally) are going to make any efforts to encourage women to compete with men on a level playing field. There is just no way this will ever happen in Japan. Abe wants more women in the labour force to work cheap jobs as a safeguard against immigration. Of course he wants to tax them too, but that's normal the world over.

The heads of Japanese business will continue their approach of having major corporations staffed by inefficient males who spend 80 hours at their desks doing around 20 hours of real work each week, who also have to partake in forced drinking sessions, not take any leave, never be off sick, not claim their forced overtime pay etc. There is usually no room for working mothers in the standard Japanese model, and when there are possibilities for women, the pay, conditions and opportunities for promotion are loaded to favour the men. This won't change anytime soon because no one in any position of power has any interest in changing the status quo. Change is Japan's c-word.

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Just because Lagarde is a woman does not mean she has women's best interests at heart, obviously.

As many have said, the first step is to actually have equality in the workplace. Then the women who want to work will.

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This is the same International Monetary Fund that recommends minimum consumption tax rates of 15% everywhere in the world. They want more women in the workplace not because they want to create a gender-free utopia where mom can go to work and dad can take care of the kids if they so choose, but one where both parents work full-time (and pay more income tax), sending their kids to day care (and paying consumption tax on the fees) with caretakers (who pay income tax). Plenty of spending generated by shuttling those kids around in cars and trains too. And once the two-income household becomes the norm, consumer prices can double and parents will still feel like they're getting by.

The only winner: the state.

No thank you, Ms. Lagarde. Coming from someone who was genuinely interested in work/parenting equality for both genders, I might be interested. But we all know what your and Abe's real goal is.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

**Just because Lagarde is a woman does not mean she has women's best interests at heart, obviously.

As many have said, the first step is to actually have equality in the workplace. Then the women who want to work will.**

Why would you suggest she doesn't have women's best interest at heart? I know plenty of Japanese women who want careers and the same pay check as the males they work next to. Many J women here want to work but can't due to lack of childcare - hence the waitlists. She's not suggesting women have to go back to work, she's saying why not make it easier for those who want to go back to work.

As for gender equality in the work place, that works both ways. Maybe mom wants to work and dad wants to stay home but seeing as how women here are so underpaid it's not funny, it's not possible for dad to stay home. Paying women and giving them equal opportunities helps men as well. A shame the oyajis that run this place don't get this nor care to get it.

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Yeah why some posters here tell Lagarde to mind her own business, it is only an advice. Nothing more nothing less.

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Whoa whoa. I'm not sure, but has anyone asked the housewives if they want to work? I'm around them all the time, in the countryside and in the cities, and even the ones is the most loveless of marriages seem pretty happy not grinding away in an office.

And hey, I'm not knocking them and the cafe brunch lifestyles.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How about starting with changing some of the attitudes held by men. Case in point: Just this Friday at work a couple of salesman walked into the office and one of the male workers looked at a young female worker who handles accounting (no connection to the salesman). He said to her go and make them tea! Jeez.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Whoa whoa. I'm not sure, but has anyone asked the housewives if they want to work? I'm around them all the time, in the countryside and in the cities, and even the ones is the most loveless of marriages seem pretty happy not grinding away in an office.

So why all the waitlists for daycare, an increase in the average marrying age,women refusing to get married and fewer babies being born? Yep, some are indeed happy to stay at home but many are not but don't have much of a choice once bub comes along. I know many women who refuse to get married and/or have kids because they don't want to be forced out of work due to the lack of daycare.

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I would like to conduct of survey of women and find out just how many of them actually want to work outside of the house.

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they want to create a gender-free utopia where mom can go to work and dad can take care of the kids

The utopia is imagining those kids everywhere. 3/4 of working age J-people don't have any. The 1/4 still have a problem with childcare and fathers not getting enough possibilities to take time for them (whether women work or not). The whole system has become inefficient. Reforms are overdue.

has anyone asked the housewives if they want to work? I'm around them all the time,

I've been around a lot more... and I was not limiting to the 5% wealthy idle ones... Note that most of those are thinking they are too busy for work with their activities. And well, if economy is booming, these 5% will become again 20% as they were during the bubble. But most women (like 60 to 80% depending of places) want to WORK instead of what they are doing now. You think they just watch TV and do hobbies all day ? Not really, they are baito-ing for peanuts between house chores or they doing the nurse for elderly. I mean it's a total waste that women that studied, worked several years in a field and they are then ending up doing unqualified tasks or struggling with the family's elderly. Japanese companies need the skills of these women. Break the vicious circle,

The heads of Japanese business will continue their approach of having major corporations staffed by inefficient males who...

Exactly. They complain about the lack of English fluency of employees, but I've known thousands of women very fluent in English, often with another European or Asian language, computer literate, with other skills (not ikebana, but law, accountancy, technical skills...). They are totally able to take a job in a company. They'd do the necessary retraining and many have taken courses in hope of getting a shigoto. They can't get one. So Monday, Mrs Tanaka is preparing and taking the Alzheimer mother-in-law to the clinic, then they'll try to go shopping for stuff to sew an apron for the kid or for the dog. It's a hell as she doesn't know what to do of that MIL. She'll iron the husband's shirts and prepare him a dinner (both chores she hates but does to save a few hundred yen/day, to compensate her lack of income). The worst thing is he won't eat at home as he'll finish too late and he'll have to eat a sandwich at his desk. Why late again ? Because his office needs one more employee, someone like his wife. OK, someone has to take care of crazy granny, but that's a job that requires specific skills different from those of most housewives, and also you have to work in team, with specific equipment, facilities. So the country needs training more professional nurses (Japanese and foreigners) and more managers of elderly facilities/services.

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They have participation, as underpaid labor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tmarie - wow. Could not be more accurate and insightful of what the real issues are. Brilliant posts.

Ive long felt Japanese women are the most well educated overqualified housewives on the planet. Many of them want to work but cant for various reasons - like lack of daycare, pressure from extended family not to because it is "kawaiso" for the children (and they are jealous), ridiculously heavy obligations at the schools as volunteers, being "demoted" into nothing positions on thier return (a friend of mine went from negotiating complicated legal contracts to filing and making coffee because she "couldnt attend the after hours meetings"), having pay barely worth getting out of bed for, bullying and harrassment because they have to leave at 5pm to pick the kids up, the list goes on.

And then there are more and more women who look at the above and say bugger that for a game of soldiers and dont even want to get married at all. Cant say I blame them.

Fix all the above, and the other issues tmarie brought up, and then we will see what happens to gender balance in the workplace. Those to want to work can, those who choose raising chilren as a careeer will do so, and there will be many happier women walking around as a result of actually having their choices open to them.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is the opposite of what is needed. Japan's birthrate is already too low -- tell Lagarde to mind her own business.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Are Japanese families still choose a maid wife for their male sons? Sorry for Japanese ladies. Are they still treated like serve tea to male workers?

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Funny to read Foreigners complain in the name of Japanese. Things won't change before one generation or two it is cultural as they don't:

critisize the pervert system critisize the faulty people don t vote for change reject any forced social volunteering decide what is good for their children for education (open-mindedness close to zero) ...

Leading to Badgie's above conclusion

God saved the emperor !

Happiness is to enjoy life, not following systems.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I would like to conduct of survey of women and find out just how many of them actually want to work outside of the house.

Why waste the money? The waitlists for daycare is proof that a) many women want to go back to work and are unable and b) Japan isn't stepping up enough to help them. Why waste taxpayers money on research that is unneeded when we already know that many women woudl like to go back to work.

Cos, while I understand your point, there was an article just a few weeks ago that actually show very few SAHW are looking after elderly parents or family members FT these day. Not to say this isn't a problem but most caring for family members are over 65 and wouldn't be working FT, nor paying pension annyway. I 100% agree with you that more needs to be done in helping families dealing with the aging population.

Funny to read Foreigners complain in the name of Japanese.

Have you ever considered that the female posters on this board suffer as well because of the issues Japanese women face? Foreign women don't automatically get daycare for their kids because they are foreigners. They have the same struggles with finding childcare, dealing with bullying PTA, getting passed up for promotions, not getting hired for jobs... because they are female. Add in that many of the men here are married to Japanese women why in earth it is funny that people speak out about things that affect them?

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When mama operate business, grandma takes care of children, old custom. Educated women who have jobs such as teachers were usually not considered for family sons' maid-wife in Japan. Look at schools. How many female teachers are married???? Look at female owned business. Papa has business and mama has another business such as ryokans, stores. Nose who take care of children. Way wealthy people have maids but usually grandma takes care of children. Papa? often fooling with his mistresses. In schools, when they quarrel, they talk like Your father has a mekake, etc.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Toshiko, this may have been true in Japan decades ago but with many workers moving around, many don't live in the same city as their parents so it is impossible for grandma to look after the children. Nor should it be expected of grandma - though try telling that to city hall when it comes to the point system for the daycare lottery. I live in an area where most workers are from outside of the prefecture. There is no other family close by for most families. One cannot expect grandma to be the babysitter these days which is why daycare is needed for families where both parents work.

Many educated women go into teaching these days because public schools have great maternity leave and childcare leave. Nearly all of the female teachers I worked with over the last decade were married if over the age of 30. About half of them had children. However, they are worked off their feet due to monster parents, needless paperwork and endless club activities.

What maids? Very few people in this country have maids, let alone silver service workers who come and clean the house a few times a month. Grandma isn't taking care of the kids because grandma doesn't live in the same city, let alone in the same house, as most families these days. Dad may indeed have "friends" on the side but very few can afford a mistress these days. Your posts remind me of listening to old biddied talk about the "good old days". It seems you are very out of touch with the reality of working mothers and women in this country.

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@tmarie: I was writing situations in Yokohama I noticed. Many has maids and housekeepers. They don;t have butlers, though, Their mistresses own coffee shop, etc. Look at female scientists. A majority of them are single working for research corporations and electronic invention corporations. Maybe I should clarify teachers. Female professors I Interviewed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That might be your observations but based on this article it doesn't seem like too many have maids, hosuekeepers and staff to help with the kids.


Female scientists I would agree with - teaching is seen as "soft" and a woman's job unless HS or university teaching. Anything "manly" like research is going to be tough going for women - due to overtime, being male dominated, drinking expectations, lack of family/work balance... Not surprising few females go into such areas considering how their male countreparts are treated like dirt, let alone female staff.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Teachers I know, women, often share the childcare with their spouses somehow. Many were smart and married other teachers who know that they will be exhausted. Some women I knew had to wake daily at 4 a.m. to get the things ready for the daycare, futon covers, clothes, etc. to get the young child off in the morning by 6 so that the woman could be at work by 8:00a.m. and ready for a full day of home room classes, meetings, grading, coaching after school, and then race to the day care to pick the child or children up before closing time at 6p.m. stop off at the supermarket or pharmacy and get necessities on the way home, go home, make dinner and a bath, put the children to bed and plan the next day's lessons or parent meetings. I cannot imagine any IMF or other people having to do this daily and adding heavy snow or rainfal and humidity to the rigure!! Really? Sorry, the cards are just stacked against a full-time employed mother or a mother wanting to advance her skills. And, if one is living in this country and needs to "go native," then a good pair of shoes is a worthy investment!! Foreign women are no exception, they have to do the same thing if they work and have kids.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

IMF chief Christine Lagarde says she will raise with Japan ways to increase women’s participation in the work force as she looks for clarity on structural reforms.


This is what Lagarde recommending to Japan.

In USA, Obama spoke to have equal pay for equal work to women. (Yesterday's news)

In USA, there had been many disabled veterans since Korean Wars (WW II, too) so that stay home husbands were plenty. Even when Jon Lennon declared that he would be house husband, Ono was not blamed for that in USA, Just her Beatles activity, House husband was not a big deal in USA. Just unequal pay problems. Japan?? Work situation problem??

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Moar feminist trite please...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japanese women and men need to just step up and fight for these changes, but this will never happen in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pretty much the exact opposite of everything Lagarde says or supports would be the best, yet not PC, thing to do.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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