High Aims, Low Outcome: Implementing Gender Equality in Japan

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 11:12 AM
Room: 303
Oral Presentation
Phoebe HOLDGRÜN , Social Science Section, German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo, Japan
Japan has ratified the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985. Next to other measures, the Convention led to enacting the Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society in Japan (1999). This law is the most outstanding and far-reaching policy regarding gender-related issues in Japan to date. However, when it comes to gender equality in international comparison, Japan still lags far behind other countries, ranking 101 among 135 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2012.

This paper asks for the reasons of the discrepancy between the far-reaching aims of policies for gender equality and the low outcome. By taking the Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society as a case study, this presentation reassesses, how and to what extent the ideas of CEDAW have been implemented throughout Japan and what barriers prevent successful outcome. This question is being taken into account from different perspectives. Next to deciphering the mechanisms and strategies of implementing gender equality on the regional level of the 47 Japanese prefectures, an outlook of policy change during the DPJ government (2009-2012) and the new LDP government that took over in December 2012 will be given.

The paper draws back on results of the authors Ph.D. thesis on the implementation of gender equality in Japans prefectures as well as on a paper on the impact of the DPJ government in the field of gender equality policies (both published 2013).