Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks alongside Noriko Nakamura, right, the chair of Global Summit of Women's Tokyo Host Committee, and Masako Mori, left, former Minister of Gender Equality and a vice chair of the Tokyo Host Committee, prior to the acceptance of his Global Women's Leadership Award last Thursday at the Global Summit of Women. Photo: LIFE.14 K.K.
politics

The world watches Abe’s ‘Womenomics’ as Global Summit of Women ends

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By Alexandra Homma

The three-day international women empowerment forum, Global Summit of Women, which this year attracted a record attendance of 1,300 women from across the globe to Tokyo, ended Saturday, highlighting Japan’s efforts to close its gender gap in its economic sector and improve women’s roles in leadership positions, a target Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to successfully implement by 2020.

The event brought ministers, CEOs, businesswomen and men from over 60 countries in its largest gathering to date in 27 years, and highlighted issues Japan and other countries need to tackle in order to boost women’s presence in leadership positions and achieve women empowerment that both highlights fundamental rights and promises a boost in the economy.

Japan, which was most recently ranked 111th in the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap index in what Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike referred to as “a shameful result” at a speech during the event, incorporated various issues into the three-day discussion — from ways to increase business partnerships in Japan, to governmental policies that are currently being addressed, to redefining work-life balance. There were 24 panel and discussion sessions, the aim of which was to provide women with hands-on tips on what can be done, based on different experiences across the world.

To much applause from the audience, Prime Minister Abe was awarded the Summit’s Global Women's Leadership Award on Thursday, the first day of the event, for his policy to raise women in leadership positions to up to 30% by 2020 — known as “Womenomics.” He accepted the award, saying that he believes that “there will never be true economic growth if women are not involved.” Abe’s speech concluded in a cheering audience and a standing ovation, with women from all over the world rushing to take photos with him.

“I respect Prime Minister Abe,” a participant from the United Arab Emirates told Japan Today during the event.

But Abe’s Womenomics is still a work in progress — and it needs a strong boost.

“One of the main reasons why I took the position as a chair of the Japan host committee is to make sure that this summit serves as a catalyst for the prime minister’s achievement of the policy,” Noriko Nakamura, founder and CEO of Poppins Inc, one of Japan’s major babysitting companies and a chair of the Japan hosting committee, said during a press briefing in the beginning of the event, which started on May 11.

According to a recent survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun, as of April 2017, the number of women in managerial positions in the leading 116 Japanese firms that answered the survey, stood at 8.3%, a slow rise from the 7.5% in 2016 in the same survey. Another survey conducted by Teikoku Databank in August 2016 on 10,285 nationwide companies in July 2016, showed that women in managerial positions stood at an average of 6.6%, a slight increase of only 0.2% from the previous year. The results in both surveys are still a far cry from the 30% that Abe has vowed to enforce by 2020.

Abe’s second cabinet is also an illustration of the drastic gender gap — there are only three women ministers out of 20 in the current Abe administration and one state minister out of 25. Japan ranks 165th out of 190 countries on the World Classification of Women in Parliaments index as of March 2017.

Among the three award recipients at the Global Summit of Women in Tokyo was Koike, who won last year’s gubernatorial elections to become Tokyo’s first women governor. She was not supported by any of the leading parties nor influential politicians, including the prime minister himself.

In the nearly one year since her election, Koike has worked hard to address some of the leading women’s issues that hinder their active presence in Japan’s workforce, focusing predominantly on tackling Japan’s daycare shortage problem. Koike has aggressively focused on the increase of daycare facilities, daycare staff’s salaries, and on significantly reducing the number of taiki jido — children on the waiting list for daycare. She has implemented a 138.1 billion yen budget — the largest ever — for fiscal 2017 to tackle day care issues and has set up a goal for zero taiki jido by the end of fiscal 2019.

“Women's power is not well utilized in Japan,” Koike said during the summit, adding that she plans to dramatically increase the number of women working at the Tokyo government in the  Tokyo assembly election in July. At present, women hold only 25 of the 127 seats in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly.

One of the key issues that Abe’s Womenomics is still failing to address is that increasing women’s participation in all public and private sectors should not only be from an economic perspective. His speech during the summit did not address women’s fundamental rights; it only focused on women’s participation as a vital force for boosting the economy amid Japan’s drastically declining population.

Nevertheless, the opening of the summit here in Tokyo, is a major step forward as it puts Abe and his government in the spotlight — and the world is watching Japan’s future moves. His award comes with great responsibility, and it should serve as a reminder that lots needs to be still done for the women in Japan.

"One of the major accomplishments we had during this summit is that we were able to invite everyone to the State Guest House (Geihinkan) for the welcome dinner,” Nakamura said. “Non-state organized events can hardly ever be run there — but we succeeded,” she said, admitting that it took nearly nine months of negotiations with the government. The fact that the government participated in the setting up of the event invites hope for an improvement in Japan’s mentality toward targeting it’s gender gap.

In the end, however, it goes down to education. As Mercedes Erra, the founder and executive president of Havas Worldwide, France’s multinational advertising and public relations company, who participated at the summit as a speaker, said in her message to all world leaders — including Japan: ”We need to be careful how we educate women. We have raised them thinking they only have half of the rights of the boys. We need to eradicate the stereotypes we have created through publicity, through media, through advertising.” In this perspective, Japan still has a long road to walk ahead.

© Japan Today

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"implement by 2020". Why not tomorrow? Abe won't even be around then.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

To much applause from the audience, Prime Minister Abe was awarded the Summit’s Global Women's Leadership Award on Thursday, the first day of the event, for his policy to raise women in leadership positions to up to 30% by 2020 — known as “Womenomics.” He accepted the award, saying that he believes that “there will never be true economic growth if women are not involved.”

..........

But Abe’s Womenomics is still a work in progress

Yeah, that's about where I stopped reading.

Someone let me know when there is actual progress being made.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yeah, Womanomics! The word is as stupid as the plan. In the six years since Abe took office and started spouting this garbage about more women in the workforce and equality in the workplace not a damn thing has been done about it. There have been no changes in the major shortage of childcare facilities, no changes to labor laws empowering women in the workplace and no changes to the salary structure to ensure women receive the same salary for the same job. Yeah, the world is watching alright. The world is watching and waiting to see some kind of change, as are we all!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Catch phrases. Politics is all about the catch phrase of the day. What astounds me to the core is how people keep lapping it up over and over and over again ad infinitum!!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

“there will never be true economic growth if women are not involved.”

True, but this will fail because it's putting the cart before the horse. Abe and his party have no true respect for women and their ambitions; they're only spouting these platitudes because they want more women to pay income tax.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yeah, and I remember when Abe spent our money touring Europe to tout "Womenomics" more than a year ago only to return and see Japan's ranking drop nearly 12 spots to be the worst among the G8, and pretty nearly the worst in the world, not to mention his cabinet having the lowest number in LDP history. More lip-service, and now that the summit is over and the spot-light off him he'll ask these women to resume tea-bringing services while Mori and other politicians say they should get home and become baby-making machines. May as well have held the summit in Pakistan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Womenomics. Great.

Now an entire sex can fail along with his Abenomics BS. Women you'd have been smart to put miles between yourself and Abe's garbage.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

plasticmonkey Today  07:08 pm JST

“there will never be true economic growth if women are not involved.”

True, but this will fail because it's putting the cart before the horse. Abe and his party have no true respect for women and their ambitions; they're only spouting these platitudes because they want more women to pay income tax.

Most LDP members probably think that empowering women means buying better electrical household appliances for them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I find myself cringing more and more at how ineffectual Abe's lead has been-I know women doing 13-14 hour days here, on a regular basis......

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Abe could setup an example to hand premiership to a woman.

Abe could talk about his Womenomics for another 1500 years while forgetting that China had her first woman emperor 1500 years ago.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Women empowerment? How ironic considering Abe and the gang did NOT want the Crown Prince's daughter to become empress. The hypocrisy of this guy makes me sick.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And while you are supposedly teaching the girls they have the same rights and "should" have the same opportunities, make sure you are teaching the same lesson to the boys regarding the girls.

Don't get me wrong I do not want "token" women hired, only if they can do the job. But there is no reason why they can not. Also today you can start having companies pay the same, and give a time line of a few months for everyone to comply, not years!

Also day care can be something as simple as using an existing large office (low key) and hire a person or two registered as a child care worker. They could be like the nursing sector where they are always in need.

If not that then relax the restrictions on being able to do it from a house or apartment in the city. Neighbors should be trust worthy, if you all get along that is. Not all women want to work outside the home anyway. If half do and half don't or can not because they themselves are taking care of a new little one, then they can watch other people's children while getting paid.

People make this so hard. Even without a mandate from the government every day companies can start most of these implementations today if they really want to. Only thing that would have to be government done is to change the law for perhaps the child care at home rule due to occupancy limits or certain laws of certain job buildings not allowing kids inside due to safety concerns.

Or just build more day care centers, maybe have them at train stations. I mean most people take the trains still I assume so their children will still be there when you return. (Although those would be the most expensive options.) On a last note, if the father is not working then problem solved as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“I respect Prime Minister Abe,” a participant from the United Arab Emirates told Japan Today during the event.

For what? Talking a good game to appease the world, but in reality working to keep the status quo in place?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan, which was most recently ranked 111th in the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Gender Gap index in what Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike referred to as “a shameful result” at a speech during the event,

And yet...

To much applause from the audience, Prime Minister Abe was awarded the Summit’s Global Women's Leadership Award on Thursday, the first day of the event, for his policy to raise women in leadership positions to up to 30% by 2020 — known as “Womenomics

So he got the award for making a pledge.  Those of us who actually live here know his pledges are not worth a bucket of warm urine.

I respect Prime Minister Abe,” a participant from the United Arab Emirates told Japan Today during the event.

Come live in japan and follow Japanese politics for a few years hon.  Then lets talk.

Nevertheless, the opening of the summit here in Tokyo, is a major step forward as it puts Abe and his government in the spotlight — and the world is watching Japan’s future moves.

Doubt Abe cares.  He's too busy with his real agenda of constitutional reform.  This is just window dressing.

His award comes with great responsibility, and it should serve as a reminder that lots needs to be still done for the women in Japan.

When has Abe ever taken REAL responsibility for anything?? Has he taken responsibility for the failure that is ABenomics??

In the nearly one year since her election, Koike has worked hard to address some of the leading women’s issues that hinder their active presence in Japan’s workforce, focusing predominantly on tackling Japan’s daycare shortage problem. Koike has aggressively focused on the increase of daycare facilities, daycare staff’s salaries, and on significantly reducing the number of taiki jido— children on the waiting list for daycare. She has implemented a 138.1 billion yen budget —the largest ever —for fiscal 2017 to tackle day care issues and has set up a goal for zero taiki jido by the end of fiscal 2019.

Koike should be the one chairing the meeting.  Not this clown of a PM.

Women empowerment? How ironic considering Abe and the gang did NOT want the Crown Prince's daughter to become empress. The hypocrisy of this guy makes me sick.

Excellent excellent point Pukey!  Someone should have pulled him on that.  That was pure sexism on his part, especially when you consider that the Shinto religion believes that the Japanese are descendents of the Sun GODDESS Amaterasu.  Goddess.  Female.  And one more thing.

 Following her husband's first stint as prime minister, she opened an organic izakaya in the Kanda district of Tokyo, but was not active in management due to the urging of her mother-in-law.

from Akie Abe's wikipedia page.  So when his wife wanted to work independently, his family basically stopped her from doing so.  How's that for womenomics.  Shinzo is so full of hot air, I'm surprised he's not floating in the sky.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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