Japan’s Kishida pledges to ‘work harder’ to fix gender pay gap

Japan has the widest gap between men and women’s pay in the G7, despite the government’s efforts to tackle gender inequality.

Japanese women working full-time earn only about 75 percent as much as men [Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to “work even harder” to tackle gender inequality, including one of the world’s worst gender pay gaps, in remarks to mark International Women’s Day.

Kishida said on Wednesday that it was “imperative” for Japan to close the pay gap, appoint more women executives and reverse the trend of women taking up lower-paying contract work after giving birth.

“We will press forward with reviewing parts of our tax system that deter women from entering the workforce, and introduce systems in which it is easier than ever for both men and women to take childcare leave,” Kishida said in a video address.

In a separate news conference on Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said more needed to be done as Japanese women still found it “quite difficult” to balance work and household duties despite some improvements in working conditions for women.

Japan has the widest gender pay gap in the Group of Seven, with Japanese women in 2020 on average earning about 75 percent as much as men for full-time work.

Despite efforts by successive Japanese governments to tackle gender inequality, Japan ranked 116 out of 146 countries for gender parity in the World Economic Forum’s global report last year and 104 of 190 countries in the World Bank’s latest report on women’s economic opportunities.

Last year, Kishida’s administration introduced rules requiring companies with 301 or more employees to disclose pay differences between male and female staff.

Tokyo last month announced proposals to overhaul the country’s sex crime laws, including raising the age of consent t from 13 to 16, criminalising the grooming of minors and broadening the definition of rape.

Female chief executives lead less than 1 percent of companies on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, according to Tokyo Shoko Research, although the proportion of women in lower-level management positions has risen in recent years.

Only 45 of the 465 legislators in Japan’s lower house of parliament are women. Following elections last year, a record 64 women joined the 248-member-strong upper house.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies