Sexual Discrimination in Japan

Anthony Faiola & Akiko Yamamoto write of the challenges facing Japanese women in the workplace and the group of women suing Tokyo-based Kanematsu Corp.

the vast majority of Japan’s 27 million female workers ….encounter a system of corporate discrimination based on sex.
90 percent of part-time workers are women.
Women on average earn 44 percent of what men earn – the widest income gap between sexes in the developed world.

Many points resonate with me and what I have seen of women’s place in the Japan Business World: serving drinks to their male colleagues, lower pay, temporary contracts, and little chance of promotion.

Recent conversations I have had reinforce these impressions. Only last week a Japanese friend of my wife was telling us about how she has to “help” her male colleagues get drinks, do basic tasks on their computer and find bits of paper or USB sticks for them on their desks. Meanwhile she cannot get a long-term contract and has to change jobs periodically so that the company is not obliged to offer her a permanent position.
Another Japanese female friend told us last month about a boss who demonstrated to her how he could touch a woman’s breast discreetly “by accident”. Finally, another Japanese women I know who is a school teacher told us about a head teacher who sexually-harassed several female teachers but was never caught as the teachers were too scared to tell anyone and retired before he was caught.

When will Japanese Business wake up and give women the respect their deserve?

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