與此同時﹐日本議員蓮舫(Renho)在週日的參議院選舉中獲得了創紀錄的170萬票的支持。這位上 鏡 的前模特今年42歲﹐儘管蓮舫所在的日本民主黨在各地遭到失敗﹐但她是日本唯一一位得票數超過100萬的候選人。她的再次當選鞏固了她作為日本最受歡迎政 治家之一的地位。
近期的形勢暗示女性權利正在日本蔓延﹐但現實總是落後於新聞。在日本這一世界第二大經濟體中女性的發展和提升都倍受爭 議 ﹐按一些衡量指標來看﹐近幾年甚至還惡化了。
在衡量政治、教育、經濟和健康等領域彌補性別差異進展的調查中﹐在去年舉行的世界經濟論 壇上 ﹐日本在134個國家中排名第101。該報告涵蓋的超過三分之二的國家2006年以來的排名都在上升﹐而日本每年的排名都在下降﹐2006年其排名第80 位。
摩根大通（JP Morgan）駐東京首席經濟學家菅野雅明(Masaaki Kanno)說﹐婦女的就業參與率並不太低﹐但這是M型曲線﹐當婦女30歲左右有孩子的時候﹐就業參與率達到低點﹐在她們重新回到工作崗位的時候﹐不太可 能得到提升﹐而且日本缺少兒童看護設施﹐這讓問題更加困難。
根據商業週刊《東洋經 濟》（Toyo Keizai）的一項調查﹐在日本上市企業中﹐去年婦女在高管中僅佔1.2%。而關注職場女性的非盈利性機構Catalyst Inc所作調查中﹐在美國﹐2009年財富500強企業高管職位有13.5%由女性擔任。
高層人士中缺少女性的原 因有很多﹐而且比較複雜。日本承受著經濟增長遲緩﹐移民政策嚴格以及人口下降之苦。日本缺少有利於有孩子女性的基礎設施和支持﹐其中包括方便的兒童保育。 日本通過了一系列法律旨在促進職場女性的地位提升﹐其中包括1986年通過的《平等就業機會法》和1992年通過的《兒童照顧休假法》﹐但批評人士說﹐執 行力度較弱。另外婦女在日本這一男權社會中﹐歷來就是順從﹐所以沒有什麼婦女的行為榜樣。
法國巴黎銀行（BNP Paribas）駐東京首席信貸分析師Mana Nakazora說﹐如果沒有我父母幫我照顧孩子﹐我想我不能做這份工作。我認為現在20多歲的女性比上一代更保守了﹐她們沒有行為榜樣。而在中國﹐婦女 不用待在家裡﹐人們認為上班是很正常的事。
婦女就業的改善一直非常緩慢。日本央行對於任命現年45歲的清水季子（Tokiko Shimizu）為首任女性分行行長一事大加宣傳。但對一些女性來說真實的消息是﹐日本用了100多年時間才走到這一步。一位目前在東京金融界供職的日本 央行前雇員說﹐相比於其他央行﹐日本央行更保守﹐她離開日本央行是因為在那裡沒有前途。如果一個人在生完孩子後返回工作崗位﹐就很難回到原來的職業軌道上 去。日本央行錯過了很多提拔人才的機會。這位雇員要求不要說明她的身份。
私 人企業的情況也不樂觀。今年42歲的Ari Fuji本週被日本航空快運（JAL Express Co.）旗下的日本航空（JAL）任命為機長﹐從而成為日本航空業第一位女機長。而AMR Corp旗下的美國航空公司（American Airlines）在1986年就任命了第一位女機長。
上 述最新的女性升職事件顯示出﹐更好地利用女性勞動力正在獲得一些動力﹐不過變化的步伐依然緩慢。日本領先的化妝品企業資生堂（Shiseido Co.）表示﹐希望在2013財年前將女性領導的比例從目前的19%提高到30%•資生堂是讓女性進入董事會的日本少數幾家公司之一﹐並在東京辦公室內設 立了一個兒童照顧設施﹐名為Kangaroom。
Japanese Women Reach Job Milestones -- Slowly
The past month has seen a flurry of female firsts in Japan. The Bank of Japan this week appointed its first female branch manager in its 128-year history. Japan Airlines Corp. announced its first female pilot captain. East Japan Railway now has female station masters in Tokyo for the first time.
Meanwhile, Renho, the mono-monickered member of parliament, garnered a record 1.7 million votes in Sunday's upper-house elections. The telegenic, 42-year-old former model, was the only candidate in the country to receive more than a million votes, even as her Democratic Party of Japan was getting crushed elsewhere. Her re-election cements her standing as one of the most popular politicians in Japan.
These recent developments would indicate a wave of girl power is sweeping the country. But the reality lags behind the headlines. The advancement and promotion of women in the world's second-largest economy is debatable, and by some measures, has worsened in recent years.
In a survey that measured progress in bridging the gender gap in areas such as politics, education, economy and health, the World Economic Forum last year ranked Japan at 101 out of 134 countries. More than two-thirds of the countries covered in the report have posted gains in their scores since 2006. Japan has slipped in the rankings every year, sliding back from its 80th spot in 2006.
'Women's participation in the labor force is not so low, but it's an M-shaped curve that dips when women hit their thirties and have children,' said Masaaki Kanno, chief economist at JP Morgan in Tokyo. 'When they come back to work, they are not likely to be promoted and there is also a lack of child-care facilities in Japan, which makes it difficult.'
In listed Japanese companies, women made up just 1.2% of senior executives last year, according to a survey by business publisher Toyo Keizai. In comparison, in the U.S., women held 13.5% of executive-officer positions in Fortune 500 companies in 2009, according to a survey by Catalyst Inc, a nonprofit organization that focuses on women in the workplace.
The reasons for the dearth of high-profile women are myriad and complex. Japan suffers from tepid economic growth, draconian immigration policies and a shrinking population. The country lacks infrastructure and support for women with children, including accessible child care. A series of laws have aimed to facilitate the advancement of women in the workplace-including the Equal Employment Opportunity Law passed in 1986 and the Child Care Leave Law in 1992-but critics say enforcement is weak. Also, women in this predominantly patriarchal society are traditionally meant to be demure and so have few female role models.
'If I didn't have my parents around to look after my children, I don't think I could do this,' says Mana Nakazora, the chief credit analyst at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. 'I also think that women in their twenties are more conservative now than the previous generation, and they don't have role models. In China, women don't stay at home-it's regarded as perfectly normal to work.'
Improvements in female participation in the work force have been slow in coming. The Bank of Japan trumpeted the appointment of Tokiko Shimizu, 45, as its first female branch manager. But the real news to some women was that it took more than a century. 'Compared with other central banks, the BoJ is more conservative,' said a former BoJ employee, now working in Tokyo's finance sector, who asked she not be identified. 'I left because my career at the BoJ wouldn't have been so promising. If one comes back after having children, it's very difficult to get back on the career track. The BoJ missed many opportunities to promote people.'
A BoJ spokesperson said: 'The Bank of Japan in recent years has implemented lenient policies for maternity and parental leave.'
The private-sector record isn't rosy, either. Ari Fuji, 42, became the first female captain at any Japanese airline when she was made a captain this week the JAL unit, JAL Express Co. In comparison, AMR Corp's American Airlines appointed its first female captain in 1986.
At Sony Corp., a leading multinational corporation with a foreigner as its chief executive, just 3.5% of its managers were women last year in Japan, according to the company. That compares with a ratio of 32.2% female managers at its operations in the U.S.
Still, the latest promotions suggest the drive to better utilize the female labor force is gaining some momentum, though the pace of change remains slow to glacial. Shiseido Co., Japan's leading cosmetics company, says it aims to achieve a 30% ratio of female leaders by the 2013 fiscal year, from a current ratio of 19%. It is one of the few Japanese companies to have a woman on its board of directors, and has an in-house child-care facility in its offices in Tokyo called Kangaroom.