Developed Japan, yet ‘Undeveloped’ for Women

When someone says JAPAN; a superb finished glittering imagery strikes in mind. It is a developed country in Asia with great competition from their neighbours now a days. South Korea, China and Russia, three developing nations are fighting for catch up policy led by Japan in 1870’s. After Meiji Restoration, Japan put human development and […]

When someone says JAPAN; a superb finished glittering imagery strikes in mind. It is a developed country in Asia with great competition from their neighbours now a days. South Korea, China and Russia, three developing nations are fighting for catch up policy led by Japan in 1870’s. After Meiji Restoration, Japan put human development and social sector development on back seat and rides the wave of industrial development led by West in first half of 20th century. So, reforms in these sectors also get affected and government machinery as well as civil societies focused on economic benefits rather than social benefits like gender equality, subaltern groups, and other undeveloped communities. I am very happy to see that at least Japan won’t followed ‘FOOTBINDING’ habit of Chinese people to glorify and identify their royal women as a stature to protect them by cover. Because, it was believed that ‘Japanese do, as the Chinese do.’

Recently released ‘World Gender Gap Index’ put Japan in the list at 110th position which was a pinch up from last year’s 114th. Also their great admirer from centuries South Korea comes after Japan in the list. Japan is in lowest position among G7 group of nations as well as 4th last in G20 group. If we analyse sub-indexes of it, we find appertain conditions in politics and economy. But in education and health, story is much different as they stood at 65th and 41th in the row.

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe clearly stated in his address at the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on 26 September, 2013, the Government of Japan will cultivate the power of women as the greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy, and further strengthen cooperation with the international community as well as assistance to developing countries with the belief that creating “a society in which women shine” will bring vigour to the world. But they are not even in the position economically to gain momentum with society. They are always seen as the stepney for the main breadwinner of family.

Women’s participation is very worse in Japan even after the initiative taken by PM Shinzo Abe to include 5 women in cabinet. Present situation is very different from 2017, that all the five were removed on the charges of corruption or incapacity from their offices and the powers were curtailed, as per law. There is a very famous commercial in Japan which delineates Japan as “underdeveloped country” in gender equality.

Although from past WW-II, women enjoyed full legal rights as men but on economic front, imbalance was wide and still not filled satisfactorily. Modern policy initiatives to encourage motherhood and workplace participation have had mixed results. When I cite Article 4 of the Fundamental Law on Education, which says,

“Citizens shall all be given equal opportunities to receive education according to their abilities, and shall not be subject to discrimination in education on account of race, creed, sex, social status, economic position or family origin,”

I find Japanese labour participation very poor and insufficient to what is required in numbers also in capacity.

The 2018 government report on gender equality shows that although the ratio of women entering universities is growing in Japan, the corresponding ratio is rising much faster in other countries. While the ratio of women entering high schools or vocational schools is higher than men’s, the percentage of women enrolled in universities is 6.8 points less than men — 49.1% versus 55.9%. The gap becomes steeper in postgraduate education: Women account for 31% of university graduates who go on to master’s courses and 33.4% of those in doctorate courses. Women account for only 15.7% of researchers in Japan (as of March 2017) — at the bottom of the ranking among OECD members. Discrimination must be eliminated and corrected by treating all under same opportunity of employment.

As said by Abe at UN address:

‘Toward a “society in which all women shine” Japan will strongly promote assistance to developing countries through its close cooperation with civil societies including NGOs and business circles.’

Cooperation to others is a far thing for Japan right now; at least statistics won’t support the commitment done by Japanese Prime Minister earlier. Prime Minister Abe emphasized Japan’s intention to enhance cooperation with the international community and its assistance to developing countries for women’s empowerment and gender-equality, as part of its effort to address global agenda. Women of Japan need more exposure to their rights and can be observed by society as basic need for their pride and existence.

In conclusion, I assert that “Rights are not a commodity that reduces when granted to others” most of the times rights actually behaves like any limited resource; especially if they comes from politics. For start, rights must not obey the point of view of one person with power or the point of view of the group that governs; rights must obey to the kind of equilibrium built by the culture by the past of the time. For this reason any healthy change must be natural, spontaneous and slow. Independently of the last, I believe that well defined and nature coherent gender roles are valuable, romantic, and make the life of many people clearer and easier.

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