Progress made in Japan on gender wage gap, but more must be done: government

By Reuters   March 8, 2023 | 02:38 am PT
Progress made in Japan on gender wage gap, but more must be done: government
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks inside a buildng at a business district, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan November 18, 2020. Photo by Reuters/Issei Kato
Progress has been made on improving working conditions for women in Japan but more must be done, Japan's chief cabinet secretary said on Wednesday, adding that social attitudes about gender equality were poor.

Japan ranked 116 out of 146 countries on gender parity in the World Economic Forum's global report last year, and efforts to promote women in management and government have stalled. There are only two women cabinet ministers among the 20 members of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's cabinet.

Women often find it particularly difficult to balance work and household duties, still broadly seen as the woman's responsibility, forcing many into unstable and lower-paying "temporary" contract work.

"The situation for women, who are trying to balance household and workplace responsibilities is quite difficult in our country and has been noted as an issue," chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news conference.

"Based on measures we've taken, jobs for women have increased. But it's also true that many switch to temporary work when they give birth, and measures to tackle this are still just halfway complete," he said, adding that he was aware much needed doing in order to change social attitudes about gender.

According to a survey published in the Sankei Shimbun daily, 65% of women said they put a low priority on time for themselves in order to fulfill both sets of responsibilities, compared to 42% of men.

Women did 80% of the cooking, compared to 8% of men, and other household chores had a similar weighting. The only job men did more than women was taking out the rubbish, at 49% to 43%.

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