Women in Japan Today 2003

News From the Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality

Measures to Support Women's Challenges - Women's Challenges Encourage Men and Invigorate Society

Requested by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in January 2002 to examine "Measures to Support Women's Challenges", the Specialist Committee on Basic Issues of the Council for Gender Equality focused their efforts on the field of economics, and presented an interim report to the Eighth Meeting of the Council for Gender Equality (October 17, 2002).

Why is there need to support women's challenges now?

  • *Women's challenges are indispensable to structural reform
  • *Japanese ranking low regarding role of women in society
  • *Women's challenges hold the key to revitalizing companies

Planned Measures of Support

  1. Change workplaces so that motivated and gifted women can play bigger roles - "Upward" Challenges -
    1. Active promotion of positive action
      *Study possible measures, taking future legislative action into consideration, to promote positive action within companies. Studies should refer to examples overseas where companies were required to do things such as submitting reports on the state of employment and formulating plans for positive action.
    2. Consideration of new measures
      *Paying attention to the principles of "fairness and cost consciousness" in the contract system, consider the addition of new items to the list of checks to be made in bids submitted to the local public sector. Such items might include whether or not the company has a positive action program, and whether or not the company has been publicly named for breaking the Equal Employment Opportunities Law
  2. Challenges in new fields - "Horizontal" Challenges
    1. Support for Business Starters
      *Enhancement of governmental support to help women start businesses, and the provision of general information, including encouraging examples
    2. Support for women participating in NPOs
      *Consideration of the revision of conditions for NPOs to receive special taxation treatment
    3. Support for female students' challenges
      *Increase opportunities for internships and other forms of practical work experience, and career guidance
      *Strengthen cooperation among NPOs and women's centers that help female students find jobs, schools, and equal employment opportunity sections in prefectural labor bureaus, to cope with discriminatory treatment of female students.
    4. Support diversified ways of working
      *Consider revision of terminable work contracts and discretionary work systems
    5. Create networks and other environment to support challenges
      *Promote the creation of networks and one-stop services for related information to facilitate efficient access to necessary information for women such as wishing to make renewed challenges, advance their careers or start up new companies
  3. Support for renewed challenges
    1. Show encouraging examples of renewed challenges
      *Support the introduction of a short-hour regular employee system, through which women can adjust work hours to meet their wishes and capacity
      *Guidelines should be mapped out, based on which rules on the equal treatment of part-time workers and full-time regular employees can be settled. The nation as a whole, including labor and management, should debate to form national consensus on the legislation of these rules.
    2. Enrich reeducation/retraining opportunities
      *Increase employment support-related projects and urge colleges to expand opportunities for reeducation
    3. Realize a society in which individuals can work regardless of age
      *Consider the possibility of legally ensuring, over the mid- to long-term, that people can work in accordance with their wishes and capacity, regardless of age. Such legal measures may include demanding companies that set age limits to job seekers to explain their reasons, or banning age limits altogether.
  4. Support for women's challenges in agriculture, forestry and fishery
    1. Women's participation in the decision-making process for policies and directions, and management
    2. Manifold measures

Support for women's challenges in the field of research, various organizations and local communities will be incorporated into discussions held in later meetings of the Specialist Committee on Basic Issues, the outcome of which should be compiled into a report by the end of FY2002.

Measures to Eliminate Violence against Women

Violence against women in the form of spousal violence, sexual crimes, prostitution, sexual harassment, stalking behavior and so forth, comprises a major infringement of women's human rights, and it is an important issue to overcome in the formation of a gender-equal society.

In addition to establishing a foundation from which to foster social awareness of the issue and eliminate violence against women, the government of Japan has been comprehensively promoting a wide range of measures to address different forms of violence.