Practice of Gender Discrimination By Government and Companies in Japan: Based on the Analysis of Official Surveys

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Yukiko SENDA, Tohoku-gakuin University, Japan
The Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL) was enacted in Japan in 1986; however, whether gender equality at the workplace has subsequently been put into practice remains to be examined. Furthermore, if it has been implemented or not, what are the reasons? Analysing a series of official surveys chronologically from 1977 to 2013, I examine the realities and the companies' perceptions/opinions on the utilization of female workforce.

The findings are as follows: (1) Companies continue male-only recruitment, hiring, assignments, transfers, training, and promotions to some extent. These violate the EEOL; however, they are never penalised by the Government; (2) Most companies do not intend to take positive actions because they state that ‘women already play an enough active part’; this perception is against the realities and going by the EEOL, promoting positive action is the companies’ obligation. However, again, the Government does not impose penalties; (3) On one hand, companies have recently explained that ‘women having family responsibilities’ is the obstacle that prevents more female participation. On the other hand, they state that what is necessary to promote female workforce’s participation is ‘providing women with support to continue working’. The problem and solution are inconsistent.

In short, Japanese companies’ excuses are uncorroborated, and the Government overlooks them. According to the economics of discrimination, the excuses given by the companies can be classified into two categories – biased perceptions and inadequate measures to solve the problem. In addition, I emphasise that the Japanese Government too continues to practise gender discrimination, which makes the situation more difficult. I conclude by saying that currently, gender discrimination by Japanese companies as well as the Japanese government hinders the introduction of new policies to promote gender equality. An external pressure (i.e. CEDAW) or a shock doctrine (i.e. ‘1.57 shock’) may be necessary to break this deadlock.