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In today's world, there has been a strong shift in consummers' expectation for the corporate world to carry values and act upon them. It opens a vast number of opportunities for new way to approach business, and women are very well suited for that.

As this New York Times article explains, women tend to cover her their pregnancy during job interview to shield them from discrimination. But women have different biological rhythm and obligation than men. If a company wants to be an equality employer, then it needs to neutralize this difference by providing accommodation to women. Furthermore, companies have a de facto duties toward society at large. In Singapore where competition is important, women sacrifice their motherhood to further their career, and this in turn has a dramatic effect on the birth rate and on the economy of the country. In Japan they would be play a key role in the recovery of the economy.

 

The role of women in Japanese economy is gaining increased momentum amid Japan searching for a sustainable way to jump start its economy. Certainly "Abenomics" seem to be working in improving Japanese economy, but is it sustainable? Does it face the hard truth that the Japanese society needs to change to realign with the growing worldwide competition and the shift within Japanese society itself?

 

Christine Largarde, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, stressed in October 2012 at the IMF General Meeting in Tokyo, the importance of women to revitalize the Japanese economy: "Because there is this aging problem… we believe that women could actually help very much". She added "Today you have five out of 10 Japanese women out of the job market, as opposed to two out of 10 men". She believes that if there were "better kindergartens and better assistance and cultural acceptance that women can actually do the job, it would be excellent for the Japanese economy".

According to a study executed by Leeds University Business School, newly incorporated companies with one female director have a 27% lower risk of becoming insolvent than comparable firms with all-male boards. The effect decreases as the number of female directors rises, suggesting that what matters is diversity rather than the specific number of women on the board. Past research shows that groups with greater gender diversity generate more-innovative thinking in problem solving.

According to a poll from the Tohoko University, 66.5% of Japanese believe there are no proper female candidate to take the helm at the Prime Minister Office.
Well, we should look at the cause of this, and the cause is that the system, mostly male dominated and it has even a name for it in Japanese : 男尊女卑 (だんそんじょひ).
Ms Sachiko Fuji, executive director of the Global Enhancement of Women's Executive Leadership group, believes "there is an unconscious bias among the Japanese people that men should become lawmakers". Yes, exactly, so until the Japanese accept the idea a woman would be just as good for the role of Prime Minister as a man, it is unlikely there will be much woman candidate, or even if there were that they would be recognized by the establishment.
So, Yoshihiko Noda, Japan former Prime Minister entertains the idea of a policy based on quota. Sachiko Fujii seems to agree with him while Ms Sanae Takaichi, the Policy Chief of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) disagree, believes a quota system would actually creating resentment and ostracism against women in the workplace.
Personally, I think what is needed is rather two-folds, so that the people can buy in : 1) an incentive based system 2) a very strong communication program to support a shift in the mindset, which would highlight the issues with the current society where women are undervalued and the vision of a more powerful future which would tap into women leadership.This is also what Ms Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund believes that Women could rescue Japan's chronically underperforming economy if more of them had jobs.

Men need to shed their deeply ingrained leadership mentality and tap female innovation, especially in Japan, where women could be the key to regaining competitiveness and igniting the rapid economic growth being experienced in many other parts of Asia.
This was the message from the 800 working women gathered for the 17th International Conference for Women in Business held July 28 in Tokyo's Odaiba district.

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