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2014年8月23日 (土)

社説:女性管理職6.6% 異次元の対策が必要だ

August 22, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Implement new steps to boost ratio of women in managerial posts
社説:女性管理職6.6% 異次元の対策が必要だ

Achieving the government's goal of increasing the ratio of women to those in managerial positions to 30 percent by 2020 appears to be extremely difficult, as was shown by a government survey.

The results of a survey released by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry shows that women accounted for only 6.6 percent of those in managerial posts at the division chief-level and above in fiscal 2013.

There is no sign of an improvement in the situation.

One cannot help but wonder whether efforts to address the issue should be left to the discretion of individual companies. Since the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe places top priority on encouraging women to play an active role in society among its policy measures, it should work out an unprecedentedly bold action plan that is not bound by a traditional mindset.

It is globally infamous that Japan lags behind many other countries in women's advancement in society.

A report issued by the U.S. Congress features measures Japan has taken to encourage women to assume important positions in society as part of "Abenomics," an economic policy mix promoted by the Abe administration. The report also shed light on specific problems that have blocked women from participating in Japanese society in the economic and political fields.

Are there any changes in Japanese companies' awareness of the roles that women should play?

Only about 20 percent of the companies surveyed by the ministry answered that they have taken positive action to eliminate the gap in job opportunities between men and women, declining from the last two years when the ratio was over 30 percent.

What is worse, 63 percent of the companies responded that they have no intention of taking any specific measures to that end, as compared with 54 percent in fiscal 2012.

Moreover, reasons cited by surveyed companies for not making any effort to narrow the gap between men and women would certainly stun the public.

Some companies said they are developing human resources regardless of their gender, some other businesses replied that women are already playing an active role in their organizations, while others answered that there are too few women in their workplaces.

These answers suggest that the companies do not view the current situation as problematic.

Many employers claim that they have difficulties finding women with the required ability and experience although they are willing to appoint women to important positions, a reason cited by the largest number of surveyed companies as to why they do not actively appoint female employees to managerial posts.

The survey results have raised questions as to whether companies are truly enthusiastic about recruiting hidden talent and whether male managers truly have enough expertise or experience.

While the government is seeking to enact new legislation to encourage companies to take action to hire and appoint women to important posts, the business world has taken the stance that efforts toward that end should be left to the discretion of each individual company.

However, it would be too optimistic to expect employers who have even failed to grasp the situation of their own companies to spontaneously try to appoint women to managerial positions.

Many business operators argue that a radical system like one in Norway, under which companies that fail to appoint women to at least 40 percent of their executive positions must be disbanded, does not fit in with Japanese culture.

If the business world sticks to its opposition to making it mandatory to ensure women account for a certain percentage of board members or managers, companies should take unprecedentedly bold measures to demonstrate that they are truly enthusiastic about promoting women to key positions.

The chairman and 18 vice chairmen of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) are all men.

Japan's largest business organization has never appointed women to any of these top positions.

Keidanren should appoint women to high-ranking posts, such as chairman and vice chairmen, as a symbolic example of the business world's efforts to appoint women to key posts.

毎日新聞 2014年08月22日 02時31分


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