Between Reproduction and Production: Womenomics and the Japanese Government's Approach to Women and Gender Policies
By identifying the gap between rhetoric and reality of the Abe government’s policy-making through an examination of government documents and politicians’ narratives, this paper argues that despite its apparent reformist approach, the Abe government’s women and gender policies exhibit a strong continuity with previous policies concerning life and gender. Most problematic is the exclusion of the idea of ‘gender’ from the agenda-setting process and second, the strong emphasis placed on the national economic growth as the policy objective. Furthermore, the national government is concurrently trying to push labour deregulation, while underlining women’s reproductive role through education. As a result, in the current form, the Abe government’s initiative is most likely to result in driving many women to taking up irregular employment, while structural gender inequalities in the labour market and at home will not be removed and women are still projected as the main actor of reproduction---in other words, the existing gender regime in Japan would remain intact. What is required is a radical policy paradigm changing departing from the conventional ‘productivist’ line.