Awareness of the Gender Gap in Japan

Author: Yudai Kaneda (Johnny Yudai Schwarz)

11 December, 2021


Japan has been making gradual progress in realizing a gender-equal society. With the establishment of the Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment of 1972 as a precursor, the legal system to realize a gender-equal society has been gradually put in place. The Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society, established in 1999, aims to eliminate the stereotypical division of gender roles into "men at work and women at home," not only in the workplace but also in the home and community, and to realize a society in which each individual is respected regardless of gender. However, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Gender Gap Index released on March 31 this year, Japan ranks 120th out of 156 countries, which is the lowest among the G7.


Men are often seen as the villains when discussing issues of the gender gap. However, I believe that this issue is not only related to men but also to women's attitudes. For example, according to the results of the 6th National Survey on Household Trends conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in 2018, the average ratio of housework shared by husbands and wives was 83.2% for wives and 16.8% for husbands. Although the percentage of husbands has increased slightly since the 2013 survey, the wife still bears the overwhelming majority of the burden. However, concerning wives' expectations of their husbands' housework, the percentage of older respondents who answered "expect" was low at 36.8%. However, the majority of younger women, 53.0%, answered "expect," highlighting the different perceptions of the division of marital gender roles among different generations. Therefore, if the tendency continues that husbands hardly participate in housework while expectations increase, problems such as differences between couples will arise, making it difficult to correct the gender gap.


In this article, I discussed the gender gap in the home, but this is not limited to the home. In fact, in the Gender Gap Index mentioned earlier, Japan ranks 117th in the economy (115th in the previous year) and 147th in politics (144th in the previous year), which is extremely low. In order to think in the broader world of economics and politics, I think it is essential to first think about ways to reduce the gender gap in the immediate family.


References

"6th National Survey on Household Trends." (http://www.ipss.go.jp/ps-katei/j/NSFJ6/Mhoukoku/Mhoukoku.pdf.

"Act on Securing, Etc. Of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment." (http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=60&vm=04&re=01.

"Basic Act for Gender Equal Society." (http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=2526&vm=04&re=01.

"Global Gender Gap Report 2021." (https://www.weforum.org/reports/ab6795a1-960c-42b2-b3d5-587eccda6023.

 

About the Author

Yudai Kaneda (Johnny Yudai Schwarz)

Born in Frauenfeld, Switzerland.

Half German and half Japanese, and currently a fourth-year medical student at Hokkaido University in Japan.

Since this September, has been studying at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, specializing in health policy and global health.

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