Politics | Sep 19

So many women, so little time for Japan's economic patriarchy

The biggest surprise of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s latest cabinet reshuffle is his sudden embrace of “womenomics.”

For 20-plus years now, Japanese leaders have flirted with the idea of empowering the female half of the nation’s 126 million people. Economists everywhere, after all, agree that countries and companies that best utilize female talent are more productive, innovative and prosperous.

On the surface, this seemed to be Kishida’s strategy in naming five women to his cabinet last week, matching previous records. It was a clear U-turn. In his nearly 24 months in power, Kishida barely even mentioned gender equality.

Better late than never? Perhaps, until you consider what Kishida said about why he named five women to his latest cabinet. Kishida says he hopes his female draft picks will "make the most of their female sensibilities.”

Can you say “cringe?” For years now, Tokyo has been fending off accusations of tokenism. It’s a valid charge. Twenty-plus years ago, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s move to name a record five female cabinet members was more media stunt than substance. ...continue reading

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