Japan's programme to boost women in work has failed

The program offered companies up to 300,000 yen ($2,500) for hitting targets to train and place more women in senior jobs

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Not one company has applied for Japanese Prime Minister’s programme to promote women to senior positions launched 17 months ago, the Japanese Government has said.

The program offered companies up to 300,000 yen ($2,500) for hitting targets to train and place more women in senior jobs.

But the 120 million yen ($1.4million) allocated to the programme for the 500 companies expected to apply went unused, according to a spokeswoman for the health ministry.

Some companies said the criteria to qualify for the programme were too hard to meet. The ministry has promised to ease the requirements and double the payments, the Japan Times reports.

The lack of applicants is a failure for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has set a goal for women to hold 30 per cent of senior jobs in all fields by 2020, up from just over 8 per cent last year in private companies.

Abe also vowed to push initiatives for women’s empowerment at a United Nations meeting in New York on Sunday.

“Japan will take further action and initiatives to protect women’s rights and promote the engagement of women in society and to solve issues to achieve gender equality, development and peace through empowerment,” he told the meeting.

Japan female workforce remains one of the most under-exploited in the developed world.

When women have their first child, 70 per cent of them stop working for a decade or more, compared with just 30 per cent in America, according to the Economist.

A senior economist at JPMorgan Securities said one solution might be fining companies reluctant to hire women.

“The intention of encouraging more women into the workforce is good. Even so, companies may be more inclined to promote women if they were fined for lack of effort, rather than being given subsidies,” said Masamichi Adachi, senior economist at JPMorgan Securities Japan.

The number Japanese women in work reached a record high since 1953, according to data from the Japanese Cabinet Office. The Japanese payroll now includes 27.72 million female full-time and part-time employees.

Women represent just over 43 per cent of Japan’s labour force. This compares with 46.5 per cent in the US, 45.9 per cent in UK and 43.7 per cent in China, according to World Bank data.