Married women want to work, according to a government survey that will form the basis for a 2012 white paper on children, child rearing and mothers. The survey results, released early, show an astounding 86 percent of women want to continue working after having children, though most find it almost impossible to do so. Only 11.6 percent indicated they do not wish to seek employment.
Of women aged 20 to 49 with children under 19, the survey found that 45.3 percent said they wish to work part time and that 25.8 percent would like to become regular employees. Another 14.9 percent wanted to work part time at first and later as regular employees. The gap between wanting to work and being employed, though, is vast.
The Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2010 noted that the total labor force participation rate, which includes all workers from age 15 to 70, was 71.6 percent for men and 48.5 percent for women.
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Related: The Working Woman
As a female CEO in a nation known for its male-dominated corporate ranks, Kumi Sato says it is her mission to spread the message that despite the challenges posed by social and gender expectations, Japanese women could "have it all" if they wanted.
Boardroom pioneer: Kumi Sato, president and CEO of Cosmo Public Relations Corp., is interviewed at her office in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Dec. 9. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO
And she is not just talking the talk. As a testament to Sato’s decades of leadership in heading Cosmo Public Relations Corp., a communications and marketing consultancy in Tokyo, she became in November the first Japanese to be named "Agency Head of the Year" in the Asia-Pacific region by the trade magazine PR Week.
Sato, who has been president of Cosmo for the past 24 years, said she believes the award recognizes how, despite the prolonged economic stagnation in Japan, her company has managed to adapt to the times and remain profitable.
"Despite the fact that the Japanese economy has been rapidly declining for more than two decades, we’ve been fortunate to continue to be above the line, in other words, we seem to do much better than economic indicators," Sato said.
"And I’ve tried to make it a point when I go around the world that the rest of Asia and the world don’t forget that Japan exists," Sato, a wife and a mother of three, said.
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Tokiko Shimizu, the Bank of Japan’s first female branch chief, says the country’s tendency to shield women from responsibility is what’s holding many back. At 45, the youngest among 32 regional heads, she is bucking the trend.Shimizu, who last month became head of the central bank’s Takamatsu branch on the western island of Shikoku, said male managers in Japan being “soft” on female subordinates has restricted their career growth.“ I doubt managers are treating female and male subordinates in strictly the same way, giving them the same tasks and developing them,” she said in an Aug. 13 interview in Takamatsu. “If a woman is denied experience with important duties, later on she’ll be told she’s not fit to be a manager.”
Read the rest of the story: BOJ’s First Female Manager Says Japanese Women Being Held Back.