Naomi Koshi is elevating women in Japan's corporate world

TIME -- May 21
Naomi Koshi remembers handing out flyers outside a train station during her second mayoral campaign in 2016, when an older man walked up to her and said, “You are too strong for a woman,” and kicked her.

She was shocked; she’d already spent four years serving as Japan’s youngest female mayor—one of just a few female mayors in the country—and ultimately won her second term. “I felt that sometimes people hate strong women,” she says, reflecting on a cultural dynamic that, by holding back half of its population, also holds back Japan. Koshi was determined to help change it.

Japan is one of the world’s richest, most advanced societies; it’s the third largest economy, beating out countries with much larger populations. But its own population is shrinking, and the nation’s economic growth has been stagnant. Household income is down. Fumio Kishida, who became Prime Minister in late 2021, has promised to usher in an era of “new capitalism” to drive faster economic growth and higher wages, but it’s not yet clear how he will address what Koshi believes to be the linchpin of the problem: Japanese women are woefully underrepresented in business. ...continue reading


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