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Gender equality a problem in Japan: economists

11-27-2012 10:46 BJT

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By CCTV correspondent Mike Firn

Economists say Japan may be able to avoid a long recession by encouraging more women to work and giving them the same pay and opportunities as men. But they say politicians and business leaders are not doing enough to provide equal pay and opportunities.

Japan, home to some of the world`s tallest skyscrapers with some of the lowest glass ceilings.

The World Economic Forum ranks it 101 out of 135 countries for gender equality. Only South Korea and Turkey ranked lower among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The OECD says Japan is ignoring one of its most valuable assets.

Yoshie Nakatani, OECD Head of Tokyo Center, said, "In 2011 the integration of female in the labor market is 63% while the male is 84%. If this gap is closed in 20 years the GDP will grow by 20 percent."

Higher tax revenues and household spending power are just two of the benefits. Economists say getting more women to work, and providing the childcare to keep them working could solve three of Japan`s most pressing problems.

Saadia Zahidi, World Economic Forum Head of Gender Parity and Human Capital, said, "One is the ageing population. How is Japan going to find the talent that it needs. The second is the declining fertility rate. How is Japan going to find the workers that it needs. The third is the industrial decline that has been taking place over the last 20 years or so."

Japan has had a gender equality bureau for 18 years but its done little to change some bosses perceptions. The world economic forum is hoping to act as a catalyst, bringing the government together with some of Japan`s top companies, Nomura, Nissan, Takeda Pharmaceutical. Its goal, narrowing the gender gap ten percent in two years."

The Asian head of global recruitment agency Hays says female workers can also shape their future career.

Christine Wright, Hays Director of Asian Operations, said, "The key thing is the communication you have with your manager. I`ve worked with female and male managers in my career and I`ve never felt I`ve been treated any differently by any of them. It comes back to the communication from top down what the company says its going to do for its employees and if they are actually going to follow what they say they are going to do."

Wright says role models are another key factor, a view shared by the World Economic Forum. It says Japan’s politicians and bosses had their preconceptions shattered last month by a former politician and lawyer who ran rings round them at meetings of the International Monetary fund and G7.

Much of the time at the first meeting of the Japan Equality Thinktank was spent discussing The Lagarde Effect.

Editor:Zhou Minxi |Source: CCTV.com

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