The world is in shock today after Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was assassinated while giving a speech in Nara, Japan, a historic city near Kyoto. Abe, who was 67, was supporting a fellow Liberal Democratic Party member campaigning for the country’s upcoming national elections when he was shot by a man with a homemade gun and held a grudge against a “specific organization.” ‘ said the Japanese police.
World leaders now mourn the loss of a towering figure in international politics, one who sought to transform Japan from a nation bound by a pacifist constitution into a heavyweight global power. But two years after Abe’s resignation as prime minister, his legacy remains divided. Few can argue about the magnitude of the impact he has had on his country, but some disagree about where he has succeeded and where he has failed.
For example, there’s less to trumpet when it comes to Abe’s “Womenomics” program, which sought to mobilize women as an economic resource in Japan. The program was, as the name suggests, inspired by the larger “Abenomics” policy designed to revive the country’s sluggish economy. By 2020, seven years after the push began, however, Womenomics had fallen far short of its stated goals, with its biggest triumph — increasing female employment by several percent, or several million women in total — being largely reversed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 recession.
Admittedly, it was no small undertaking. Since the end of World War II, women in Japan had been gender relegated to domestic duties such as housework, child rearing and caring for elderly parents, while the men participated in the country’s catapult growth known as the “economic miracle.” ”, in which Japan became the world’s second largest economy in the period from post-war to the Cold War, bringing with it the ‘salaryman culture’, in which men showed overwhelming loyalty to their companies and women offered almost no help at all. As Japan’s status rose, so did societal tensions as women began to view motherhood and housewives as a trap—a dynamic that contributed to Japan’s lagging birth rate and aging population.
Womenomics was partly intended to expand that gradually shrinking workforce. And it meant removing some infrastructural barriers to entry, including a shortage of childcare facilities — with waiting lists of thousands of children in some places — by easing the rules for opening new daycare centers, as well as fighting gender discrimination when passing new government laws. Policy aside, perhaps the biggest impact was simply the effect of Abe, as Prime Minister, publicly disproving the age-old entrenched ideals of stay-at-home women in a country where traditionalism is strong and deep.
Still, the program was plagued with setbacks, showing that the country could still withstand women’s ascent up the corporate ladder. Womenomics aimed to place women in 30% of management positions by 2020; but by that year it had reached only 10.7% of the board positions for Japan’s largest public companies, well below the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 26.7%. Meanwhile, it ranked 120th (out of a total of 156) in the World Economic Forum’s 2021 index of countries committed to closing the gender gap.
Now in 2022, the gender gap is still wide, with women working more than 10 hours less per week than men, the largest margin in the G7 (which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States). And of those who worked less than full-time, 41% named “compatibility with household chores” as their ideal job in a survey by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Despite its promise to help women “shine,” Womenomics may have been a speck in Abe’s tapestry, with far less lasting success than other Abenomics programs. Nevertheless, it is notable as one of the Japanese government’s first major efforts to mobilize a largely dormant population of 65 million women in the country. And it may well have paved the way for progress on the road, albeit slowly.
This post Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dead; The legacy of Abenomics lives on was original published at “https://www.fastcompany.com/90767744/japan-prime-minister-shinzo-abes-legacy-of-womenomics?partner=rss&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=rss+fastcompany&utm_content=rss”