In 1994, the Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality (President: Prime Minister, Members: all Cabinet Ministers) was set up within the Cabinet. In addition, the Office for Gender Equality and the Council for Gender Equality were established by Cabinet Orders in the Prime Minister's Office. In the reform of the Central Government implemented on January 6, 2001, the Central Government was restructured from its former one Office and twenty-two Ministries to one Cabinet Office and twelve Ministries, to be able to deal effectively with complex policy issues in the 21st Century. As part of this reorganization, a Cabinet Office headed by the Prime Minister was established in the Cabinet, and a Council for Gender Equality and a Gender Equality Bureau were established within this Cabinet Office. The Gender Equality Bureau is mandated with the formulation and overall coordination of plans for matters related to promoting the formation of a gender-equal society, as well as promoting the Basic Plan for Gender Equality and formulating and implementing plans for matters not falling under the jurisdiction of any particular ministry.
The Basic Act for Gender-Equal Society went into effect in June 1999 to clarify basic concepts pertaining to formation of a gender-equal society and indicate the direction these should take, and to comprehensively and systematically promote the State's, local governments' and citizens' measures pertaining to formation of a gender-equal society.
Since the Basic Plan for Gender Equality was formulated on December 12, 2000, the plan was revised in 2005 and 2010. Now we are making efforts under the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality that is formulated as a practical action plan for further accelerating the development of gender equality in Japan.
One of the chief objectives of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality has been to boost representation of women in the policy decision-making process.
With regard to female national advisory councils and committees, efforts to set numerical targets and achievement deadlines have proved effective. Efforts are currently being made to achieve, by 2020, a target of having neither gender make up less than 40% of the total members of the committee as a whole. Based on a survey at the end of September 2010, the proportion of female members was 33.2%.
(Graph:Female Members in National Advisory Councils and Committees)
The Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing for the first time in Asia in September 1995, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were adopted. Nearly 50,000 participants gathered including the participants of NGO Forum.
The Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women called for governments to develop their plan of action, as soon as possible.
In Japan, the Council for Gender Equality submitted its report, "Vision of Gender Equality -Creating New Values for the 21st Century-" to the Prime Minister on 30 July 1996. The Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality, by taking into account the Platform for Action as well as the report, has comprehensively and systematically sorted policies and measures for realizing a gender-equal society and finalized a new national plan of action entitled "National Plan for Gender Equality toward year 2000" on December 13, 1996.