Abenomics’ Women Problem

If Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reforms are now stalling, as many fear, one reason could be a lack of capacity to implement policies to boost female employment. Indeed, Abenomics’ success or failure may depend on whether Japanese are convinced that women are essential to their country’s economic revival.

TOKYO – When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed the United Nations General Assembly last week, he emphasized his determination to build a society in which women shine. Indeed, creating opportunities for women in the workforce is an essential pillar of the government’s reform program, so-called “Abenomics.”

Abe is clearly on the right track. According to an analysis by researchers at Goldman Sachs, closing the gender gap could boost GDP by 9% in the United States and nearly 13% in Japan. During his stay in New York, Abe also discussed “womenomics” with Hillary Clinton, who had made empowering women in the economy a key policy goal during her tenure as US Secretary of State.

Abe, strange to say, is the first Japanese leader to grasp that the underutilization of women’s skills has been holding back Japan’s economy. Japan ranked 105th out of 136 countries in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2013,” down from 101st place in 2012.

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