I was particularly intrigued with the gender inequality issues in Japan because Japan is my home country and I am directly affected by the societal and cultural views Japanese people may have. Growing up in Japan, I always thought that inequalities within the country didn’t really exist as I personally was never affected by them. I went to international schools, and I never really interacted closely with other communities in Japan. However, after hearing from my mom about her experiences working in Japan and experiences of power harassment by her male superiors, I grew to understand the deep-rooted issue that exists here. I think that a lot of this is formed based on cultural and traditional social views that women should stay in the household, while men should go to work. As a result of these views, Japan consistently ranks very poorly in the world gender gap index, ranking 121st out of 153 countries in 2018.
I was particularly shocked when the issue in Japan was further brought to light recently, with the comments of Yoshiro Mori the Olympic coordinator of the 2021 Olympics who said that “a board meeting including many women would take time.” His comments were incredibly degrading to the insightful input that women can bring to the discussion. To think that this man was in a position of power in my home country and that his opinions were not uncommon, I grew increasingly worried about my future employment. Though I’m not entirely sure if Japan is where I would want to live for my working life, I am incredibly worried about the lack of progress in achieving more women’s rights in Japan. I would like to investigate whether any actions have been taken to make the working environment for women in Japan more inclusive, and why they may or may not have been as effective.
I think challenging this gender inequality issue is pertinent for Japan to positively adapt to the changing current gender-equal workplaces in our world today. Japan is one of the only developed countries that still faces very severe gender unequal work environments, with few women in positions of power.
There is a phrase that is often said within the Japanese population about Japan’s development: “We are on a sinking ship that will eventually sink.” Though it was once one of the most economically developed countries in the world, Japan has since plateaued in its growth. I think a huge part that halted this growth and development was its inability to change its traditional mindsets and behaviours to keep up with modern values. Japan needs a paradigm shift for its outdated beliefs and values to be changed. By disregarding women’s opinions in the workforce, it is effectively disregarding the developments and innovations that women may give rise to. I would really like for females in Japan to feel empowered again, unafraid of the challenges they might face as women in the workforce.