In Japan, push to shatter glass ceiling spurs hope, doubts

by | Jul 18, 2022 | World

Tokyo, Japan – When Nami Sakai returned to Tokyo in 2016 after 15 years working in the United States, she struggled to acclimatise to Japanese corporate culture.As a woman and self-described “outsider”, Sakai, who works in consulting, found that her ability to effect change and get her voice across had diminished, irrespective of seniority.
“In Japan, men have always been more dominant in the workplace,” Sakai told Al Jazeera, describing the work culture as “fundamentally” different from her experience in the US.
“The power hierarchy is so ingrained that men often don’t consider where women are, in terms of status.”
Japanese corporate culture, which prides itself on gruelling hours spent in the office, has long been derided by critics as patriarchal and unfriendly to women.
Japanese women on average earned 21.1 percent less than their male counterparts in 2021, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), nearly double the average gap among developed economies.
Meanwhile, women make up only 14.7 percent of senior roles in Japan, compared with 42 percent in the US, 40 percent in Sweden and 37 percent in the UK, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to tackle this gender divide as part of his “new capitalism” aimed at narrowing …

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