Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed his intent to control the country’s obsession with long work hours so that more women can return to the workforce.
— PM’s Office of Japan (@JPN_PMO) December 13, 2016
Abe addressed the infamous practice at the third World Assembly for Women (WAW!) 2016 in Tokyo on Tuesday, AsiaOne reported. He hopes to tackle it by implementing limits on permitted overtime work, closing gender wage gaps and giving companies more incentives.
Reportedly, three million women between the ages of 25 and 40 have opted out of the workforce to tend to their children.
For this reason, Abe stressed:
“Reforms to our ways of working will not succeed without changes to men’s ways of thinking. Couples should share the responsibility for household chores and for child-raising. Japanese men are notorious – but I am not the case – for not doing housework.”
The glaring absence of women in the Japanese workforce has been around for some time, further hurting an economy sustained by aging employees. This is why early in 2013, Abe first coined the term “womenomics,” referring to the move to bring more women into organizational leadership roles.
In May, The Japan Times reported an increase of 66% in female labor participation, a record surpassing that of the United States (64%). This follows the concession of Abe’s own officials who thought that placing women in 30% of managerial positions by 2020 is “not sufficiently shared by society as a whole.”
Whether Japan succeeds in bringing more women back to work, only time will certainly tell.