She describes the different kinds of magazines, their stories and readerships, and the new genres the emerged at the time, including confessional pieces, articles about family and popular trends, and advice columns. Japan’s post WWII occupation changed gender roles through legal and social reforms. WWII expunged the feudal system and the new Japanese Constitution prohibited discrimination based on gender. In addition, American perceptions of public displays of affection, style, and morals changed how Japanese men and women interacted with each other. Gender roles blended with Japanese tradition and modern American attitudes.

  • Legally, few barriers to women’s equal participation in the life of society remain.
  • Of the 200,000 abortions performed per year, however, 10% are teenage women, a number which has risen since 1975.
  • Still, Japan was “no place for a girl”, says Sachiko, as she dreamt of moving to America with her American boyfriend, Frank.
  • In 1986, the Equal Employment Opportunity Law took effect, prohibiting discrimination in aspects like dismissal and retirement.

Sexuality in Japan has developed separately from mainland Asia, and Japan did not adopt the Confucian view of marriage in which chastity is highly valued. Of the 10,000 entering protective custody at the shelter, nearly half arrived with children or other family members. After 1945, the Allied occupation aimed to enforce equal education between sexes; this included a recommendation in 1946 to provide compulsory co-education until the age of 16. By the end of 1947, nearly all middle schools and more than half of high schools were co-educational.

Another critique suggests the cars send the signal that men create a dangerous environment for women, who cannot protect themselves. Japanese and foreign women and girls have been victims of sex trafficking in Japan. They are raped in brothels and other locations and experience physical and psychological trauma. Japanese anti-sex trafficking legislation and laws have been criticized as being lacking. Of the 200,000 abortions performed per year, however, 10% are teenage women, a number which has risen since 1975. At 87 years, the life expectancy of Japanese women is the longest of any gender anywhere in the world. Notably, Tsuruko Haraguchi, the first woman in Japan to earn a PhD, did so in the US, as no Meiji-era institution would allow her to receive her doctorate.

Women’s Rights in Japan

To maintain its economy, the government must take measures to maintain productivity. While women hold 45.4 percent of Japan’s bachelor degrees, they only make up 18.2 percent of the labor force, and only 2.1 percent of employers are women. Another term that became popular in Japan was the “relationship-less society”, describing how men’s long work hours left little or no time for them to bond with their families. Japanese society came to be one of isolation within the household, since there was only enough time after work to care for oneself, excluding the rest of the family.

After the war, women continued to prove that they wouldn’t regress to old ways of gender discrimination and that they wanted to be trailblazers for future Japanese women. Women were empowered by their newly discovered potential for equality and continued to sustain their prominence. That’s a major issue in Japan, where the birth rate is falling, the population is aging, and many young people are in precarious, low-paid jobs. Less than 3 percent of children were born out of wedlock in 2020, and the decision to marry still largely depends on the man’s ability to provide, though attitudes are starting to change. These developments provide a clear opening for businesses to support STEM education for young women.

Despite constant discrimination, modern Japan continues to push forward with support from the EEOL (and other equality laws like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ) toward safer and better-paying jobs for women. In 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe placed five women into political roles within his cabinet. Of these, only three kept their positions due to scandals related to workplace sexism. Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis. After World War II, the legal position of women was redefined by the occupation authorities, who included an equal rights clause in the 1947 Constitution and the revised Civil Code of 1948. Women as well as men were guaranteed the right to choose spouses and occupations, to inherit and own property in their own names, to initiate divorce, and to retain custody of their children.

Expectations for men and women have traditionally aligned with societal obligations in the private and public sector. Women dominated the household but outside of the home, their families dictated their behavior. Although ancient philosophies like Confucianism and feudalism laid the foundations for the status of women, turning points like WWII allowed them to break through the glass ceiling and defy gender expectations. A similar distinction—that of regular and non-regular employees (part-time, temporary, and other indirect workers)—is especially salient in Japan. Using this categorization, it is apparent that a substantially larger portion of prime-age women are engaged in non-traditional (and often lower-quality) jobs, with the share increasing from 44.2 percent in 2000 to 51.0 percent in 2016. Non-regular workers aremore likely to engage in routine tasks,less likely to qualify for public pension insurance, andless likely to see wage increases throughout their careers.

When divorce was granted under equal measures to both sexes under the post-war constitution, divorce rates steadily increased. After the Meiji period, the head of the household was required to approve of any marriage. Until 1908, it remained legal for husbands to murder wives for infidelity. Lebra’s traits for internal comportment of femininity included compliance; for example, children were expected not to refuse their parents. Self-reliance of women was encouraged because needy women were seen as a burden on others. In these interviews with Japanese families, Lebra found that girls were assigned helping tasks while boys were more inclined to be left to schoolwork.

During the 21st century, Japanese women are working in higher proportions than the United States’s working female population. Income levels between men and women in Japan are not equal; the average Japanese woman earns 40 percent less than the average man, and a tenth of management positions are held by women. Given the dominance of men in Japanese politics, female politicians often face gender-based discrimination and harassment in Japan. They experience harassment from the public, both through social media and in-person interactions, and from their male colleagues. A 2021 survey revealed that 56.7% of 1,247 female local assembly members had been sexually harassed by voters or other politicians. Even though the 1997 revision of the EEOL criminalized sexual harassment in the workplace, female politicians in Japan often do not have the same support when they are harassed by male colleagues. The LDP has been reluctant to implement measures to counter harassment within the party and to promote gender equality more generally.

Working women in Japan

Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s reforms have occupied a particularly prominent place in discussions of Japanese women’s economic opportunities. Sometimes referred to as“Womenomics,”these policies arrived only after the recent acceleration in women’s progress, and in some cases have yet to be fully implemented. While the effects of these policies thus far are unclear, what is evident is that Japan has embraced the notion of women’s economic participation as a core macroeconomic objective, a crucial counterpoint to an aging population and low birthrates.

Before its enactment, women could generally only get labor-intensive jobs in poor working conditions, mostly on farms or in unsafe factories. Post-EEOL Japan began to see blue collar jobs fill up with machines, allowing women to have better opportunities elsewhere in society. Modern education of women began in earnest during the Meiji era’s modernization campaign. The first schools for women began during this time, though education topics were highly gendered, with women learning arts of the samurai class, such as tea ceremonies and flower arrangement. The 1871 education code established that students should be educated “without any distinction of class or sex”. Nonetheless, after 1891 students were typically segregated after third grade, and many girls did not extend their educations past middle school. Government policies to increase the birthrate include early education designed to develop citizens into capable parents.

Japan’s newfound Buddhism had fundamental convictions that women were of evil nature, which eventually led women into a submissive role of in Japanese society. There is also a widespread recognition by the Japanese society that interests and abilities must be cultivated early and nurtured generously through academic education, extracurricular activities and social interactions. However, data from the National Institute for Educational Policy Research shows only 16% of girls choose to further pursue science and math education in high school, compared to 27% of high school boys who select science and mathematics. In 2019, slightly more than half (50.7%) of Japanese women advanced from secondary schools to universities, an increase from an advancement rate of only 15.2% in 1990. Japan holds the highest share of the world’s population in this age group. James Raymo points out that more recent Japanese cohorts have also left the workforce after childbirth, but for shorter periods of time. “Most of the companies are receptive; they recognize this is an issue, and they’re hoping to resolve it over the next year or two,” said Chris Vilburn, the head of Asia stewardship in Goldman’s asset management division.