Women and Japan’s Future

It is fascinating living in Japan at this time in history as the country faces a complex matrix of domestic and global issues. The following article speaks to one critical facet of the serious dilemma that Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga desperately needs to address: how to develop and deploy Japan’s human capital, women in particular, as a central feature of the bold reforms required to supercharge the country’s stagnant economy and transform the way it does business.

Despite the unfortunate Trump-like headline, the article is worthy of attention by Japan’s aged, male-dominated political leadership, ministerial bureaucracy and business elite. It will be interesting to see how the government responds.

Back in 2014, the former Prime Minister pledged to make Japan “a place where women shine.” Sadly, the lack of any significant government action to encourage private sector structural change, it remains an unfilled promise. The article concludes:

As a result, the benefits from the educational gains that women have made since the 1980s have fallen short of potential. To be sure, a new generation of university-educated women who graduated in the 1990s and 2000s is coming of age, and some will soon take up more prominent positions. But labor-market conditions for the bulk of Japanese women remain highly constrained. 

While this problem partly reflects persistent misogyny and rigid corporate attitudes, the main culprit is the cheap-labor strategy. Too many men and women suffer from job insecurity and low wages, which almost certainly has contributed to Japan’s low marriage and birth rates. And this, in turn, has kept the overall population in decline, putting a cap on economic growth.

When he entered office last month, Suga promised to “create a cabinet that works for people.” To make that mean something, he needs to put the Japanese people at the very center of his national economic strategy. Japan desperately needs to develop and deploy the human capital embedded in its population, so that it can replace the 30-year-old emphasis on cheap labor with a restored vision of a high-wage, high-productivity society. Japan should be the Switzerland of Asia, not its U.S.

You can read the article by Bill Emmott, former editor-in-chief of The Economist, and the author of Japan’s Far More Female Future here:http://www.paulmyer.com/wp-content/uploads/How-To-Make-Japan-Great-Again.pdf

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Hi, I’m Paul Myer. Thank you for visiting my website. I hope you enjoy my writing and photography. If you want to stay connected, please subscribe to receive posts via email.

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