This paper focuses on Japan, a socioeconomically advanced, developed democracy which has relatively low women’s representation within the national parliament. This case demonstrates the lack of systematic relationships between human development and women’s political participation. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, since resuming office in 2012, has recognized the under-representation of women in the labor market and has subsequently promoted “Womenomics” as one of the three structural reform policies for reviving the Japanese economy. This study will examine the impact that the prime minister’s Womenomics strategies have had on the representation of women in the national parliament. The author collected and compared Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s English translated speeches between 2012 and 2016 (the timeframe during which she conducted her master's dissertation). The contents were analyzed to identify the usage of the term “women” in relation to “Womenomics” and the actualization of the government’s target to increase the number of women in all leadership positions to 30% by 2020. This case study also gives an insight into understanding the impact that heads of state and governments can have on women’s representation in politics as well as identifying the most effective top-down gender reforms for culturally and politically conservative societies. This article outlines the historical context of the Womenomics policy in Japan, provides a critical analysis of the implementation strategies, and analyzes the contents of speeches and statements given by Prime Minister Abe since resuming office in 2012. It concludes with an assessment of the viability of Womenomics for Japan considering findings, progress and socio-structural obstacles thus far.
Re-Evaluating Gender Reforms in Non-Western Nations: A Case Study of Women’s Empowerment in Japan.
Journal of International Women's Studies, 20(2), 384-405.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol20/iss2/26