White Paper on Gender Equality 2000

Chapter 1 Building Social Systems that Promote Gender Equality

  1. Expanding women's participation in policy decision-making processes
    • The Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality has been working actively on the appointment of women to councils, etc., toward achieving the objective (decided on 21 May 1996) of 20% female membership in national councils, etc., by the end of FY2000 at the latest. As of the end of September 1999, the figure was 19.8%.
    • The National Personnel Authority has been implementing special recruitment activities aimed at female students in order to bring about an increase in the number of qualified and motivated female candidates sitting for the National Public Service Recruitment Examination to promote the employment of women. These activities include lectures by women in managerial positions and Kasumigaseki seminar by female civil servants for female students that primarily consist of exchanges of opinion with female civil service employees. In addition, it has requested each government ministry and agency to take a positive attitude toward employing women from among the successful examination candidates.
    • Drawing on the recommendation of the report of the Study Group on the Local Official System, the Ministry of Home Affairs has requested local governments to take a positive approach to the employment, promotion and expansion of work areas of female local civil servants based on the principle of equal treatment and meritocracy established in the Local Officials Act.
  2. Reviewing social systems and practices and reforming awareness from the perspective of gender equality
    • As part of the satellite accounts research for the national economic calculations, the Economic Planning Agency has conducted research into the preparation of statistics on family care and child care work, which is largely performed by women, in order to ascertain the aspects of paid and unpaid work since FY 1997. It published its interim results in June 1999 as Results of an Analysis of Time Spent on Family Care and Child Care.

Chapter 2 Realizing Gender Equality in the Workplace, Home and Community

  1. Securing equal opportunity and equal treatment in employment, etc.
    • The Ministry of Labour is carrying out various educational activities to fully inform enterprise owners, employees and others concerned about the revised Equal Employment Opportunity Law and Other Measures that were fully enforced from April 1999.
    • On 20 January 2000, the Ministry of Labour opened the Center for the Advancement of working Women (Miraikan) in Minato-ku, Tokyo as a central facility for providing positive support for women in work. Miraikan serves as a venue for seminars, etc., to exhibit women's abilities and it provides support for women to display their skills.
    • In FY1999, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry carried out research into support and other measures for female and senior citizen entrepreneurs.
    • In April 1999, the Japan Finance Corporation for Small Business and National Life Finance Corporation implemented a low interest loan system for female entrepreneurs (the female entrepreneur support fund) in order to encourage the establishment of businesses that utilize the female perspective and to maintain and improve Japan's economic vitality.
  2. Building partnerships in agriculture, forestry and fishing villages
    • With the approval of the Basic Law for Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in July 1999, the Basic Plan for Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas established in March 2000 clarified the basic position and direction of agricultural policy in the promotion of participation by women in agricultural management.
    • Drawing on the principles of the Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society and the Basic Law for Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas, the Ministry of Agriculture put together the Guidelines to promote a Gender Equal Rural Society in November 1999. Measures aimed at the comprehensive promotion of gender equality in rural areas are being promoted.
  3. Supporting men and women in harmonizing their working lives with home and community lives
    • Based on the recommendations of the December 1998 Learned Persons' Conference on Promoting Measures to Address the Declining Birth Rate chaired by the Prime Minister, the Ministerial Conference on Promoting Measures to Address the Declining Birth Rate was established in May 1999 and the National Conference on Promoting Measures to Address the Declining Birth Rate was set up in June of the same year. At the Ministerial Conference, the Guidelines on Promoting Measures to Address the Declining Birth Rate were put together on 17 December, 1999 based on the principles of the recommendations of the Learned Persons' Conference. In addition, the Specific Implementation Plan for Priority Measures for the Declining Birth Rate (the New Angel Plan) was put together on 19 December 1999 based on the consensus of the six ministers concerned.
    • In March 2000, a proposed partial revision to the Child Allowance Act extending the age of children for whom child allowance is payable from the current up to three years old up to the start of compulsory education was presented to the 147th session of the Diet.
    • The Child Care and Family Care Leave Law was fully implemented on 1 April 1999. In addition, a partial revision to the Employment Insurance Law raising the benefit rate for child care leave benefit and family care leave benefit from the current 25% to 40% was presented to the 147th session of the Diet.
    • From FY1999, the Ministry of Labour implemented a project to promote family-friendly enterprises that have a variety of systems to allow compatibility among work, child care and family care and carry out measures to enable workers to choose various and flexible ways of working.
  4. Developing the conditions to allow senior citizens to live with peace of mind
    • The Care Workers Law was revised in March 2000 to secure workers in the care industry and support the creation of positive employment opportunities. The revised law was enforced from April 2000.
    • In order to create a social support mechanism for the care of senior citizens, the Bill concerning the establishment of a care insurance system was presented to the Diet in November 1996. The Bill was approved in December 1997 and promulgated into law in the same month. Full consideration is being given to fiscal and operational support for local governments, which are the insurers, to ensure the smooth implementation of the care insurance system from April 2000 as well as the promotion of the New 10 Year Plan for the Promotion of the Health and Welfare of Senior Citizens (the New Gold Plan) to establish a system that provides adequate care services.
    • 1999 was a financial recalculation year that occurs every five years, and the Bill to partially revise the National Pensions Act was presented to the Diet in July of the same year and approved in March the following year.
    • The government presented the Bill concerning the facilitation of mobility for senior citizens and persons with disabilities using public transportation, which aims to promote convenience of mobility and improve safety for senior citizens and persons with disabilities using public transportation, to the 147th regular session of the Diet.

Chapter 3 Creating a Society Which Promotes and Protects the Human Rights of Women

  1. Eliminating all forms of violence against women
    • The Bill for Partial Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act and the Inquest of Prosecution Act, which included a provision to abolish the time limit for bringing charges of rape and sexual assault was presented to the 147th session of the Diet in March 2000.
    • The Law for punishing acts related to child prostitution and child pornography, and for protecting children was approved in the 145th session of the Diet on 18 May 1999 and enforced on 1 November 1999. The Law, which draws on the spirit of the Children's Rights Convention (ratified in 1994) that protects children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, was enacted as nonpartisan Diet legislation in order to provide children with greater protection.
    • In November 1999, the Conference on Measures against Child Abuse was held attended by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education, Science Sports and Culture, the Management and Coordination Agency, the National Police Agency, the Supreme Court and other related organizations. The Conference decided to strengthen cooperation at the national level.
    • The Council for Gender Equality presented its report Aiming for a Society with no Violence Against Women to the Prime Minister on 27 May 1999. The report recommended that an ongoing study of violence against women be conducted, and further studies have been conducted accordingly by the Subcommittee on Violence Against Women.
    • In September and October 1999, the Prime Minister's office carried out a survey on violence between men and women, which targeted 4, 500 men and women over the age of 20. It was the first national survey on violence between men and women.
  2. Respecting the human rights of women in the media
    • The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and broadcasters indicated some measures as specific strategies to address the problems of young people during the summing up of the Experts Meeting in June 1999. The measures include (a) more than three hours of programming for young people per week (commercial broadcasts); (b) the holding of a study group on the media literacy; (c) the establishment of a independent organization of broadcasters (provisionally named the Young People and Broadcasting Committee); (d) the establishment of a time slot (17:00-21:00) when consideration is given to the viewing of children and young people (commercial broadcasting); and (e) enhancement of the provision of information on programs for commercial programming.
  3. Supporting lifelong health for women
    • The Ministry of Health and Welfare has been holding a study group on lifelong health policies for women since May 1998, and it has conducted an analysis of current issues surrounding women's health and the direction of future policy measures from a comprehensive perspective. The study group compiled a report in July 1999.
  4. Promoting gender equality and making possible a diversity of choices through improved education and learning
    • In June 1999, the Lifelong Learning Council published two reports. "Hands-on Experience in Daily Life and Nature Cultivates the Minds of Japanese Children" made concrete proposals on policies to enhance the environment of the local community to nurture young people's "zest for life," and "Making Wide-ranging Use of the Fruits of Learning" recommended specific policies to utilize the results of lifelong learning. In addition, on 17 November 1999, the Minister of Education issued a recommendation on Measures to Promote Lifelong Learning That Make Effective Use of New Information Telecommunications Technologies.

Chapter 4 Contributing to the Equality, Development and Peace of the Global Community

  1. Adopting and absorbing international standards in Japan
    • Investigation and evaluation of the status of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action is scheduled to be conducted at the Women 2000 Conference. As part of the preparations for the Conference, the United Nations has sent a questionnaire on the status of implementation of the platform to each member nation. Japan's responses on the status of implementation of the platform and the outlook for the future were drawn from opinions received from a wide range of the general public, and were submitted to the United Nations on 28 April 1999.
  2. Contributing to the equality, development and peace of the global community
    • At the 44th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (28 February-17 March 2000), in addition to deliberations on subjects such as mainstreaming the gender perspective under the agenda of Follow-up to The Fourth World Conference on Women, the Preparation Committee for the Women 2000 Conference also conducted discussions on organizational matters, the political statement scheduled to be adopted and documents concerning further action and initiatives.

Chapter 5 Promotion of the National Plan of Action

  1. Active development of measures and regular follow-up
    • The Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality has been comprehensively promoting measures based on the National Plan of Action for Promotion of a Gender Equal Society by the Year 2000 (adopted in December 1996).
  2. Collecting, compiling and releasing survey results and information
    • The Office for Gender Equality within the Prime Minister's Office has established a Gender Information Site homepage (http://www.sorifu.go.jp/danjyo/) on the Internet, from which information in Japanese and English is widely disseminated both within Japan and abroad on Japan's efforts to realize a gender-equal society, as well as related data, etc.
  3. Strengthening the structures and functions of national machineries
    • The government submitted the Basic Bill for a Gender-Equal Society to the 145th Regular Session of the Diet on 26 February 1999. The Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society was approved on June 15 and was promulgated and enforced on 23 June as Law 78 of 1999.
    • New members were officially appointed to the Council for Gender Equality on 6 August 1999. With the receipt of a new request for advice from the Prime Minister concerning the basic policy direction for promoting the formation of a gender equal society where women and men participate equally based on the Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society, the Basic Issues Committee is currently researching and deliberating the issues.
  4. Strengthening liaison among national and local governments and NGOs and enhancing nationwide efforts
    • On 28 January 2000, the National Summit Meeting of Municipalities with Declarations on Gender Equality was held by heads of local governments that are involved in the Program to Encourage Declarations by Municipal Authorities on Gender Equality in Yatsushiro-shi, Kumamoto Prefecture.