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Changes urged in Japan’s male-centered work culture

A government advisory panel on gender equality called on the nation to change the male-oriented work culture based on the outdated family model in which men work long hours while women take care of the home.

In an 82-page report submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the panel said Japan’s notoriously long working hours and frequent job relocations that took root during the postwar boom need to be fundamentally reviewed.

The outdated corporate culture has made it difficult for women to fully execute their abilities, or for men to participate in homemaking and child rearing, the report says.

Recommended measures include placing caps on overtime hours and creating a work environment to encourage employees to take all their paid holidays. The report calls on the government to consider setting numerical targets with deadlines to reduce overtime.

Based on the proposals, the government is to draw up by the end of this year its fourth basic plan to achieve gender equality with numerical targets. The basic plan is reviewed every five years, and the next raft of changes will take effect in April 2016.

The report urges the government to accelerate measures to achieve its target of increasing women in managerial positions to 30% by 2020.

It calls on companies and government offices to increase their efforts to place more female candidates in executive positions.

The report calls for beefing up measures to eradicate sexual harassment as well as maternity harassment — a term used for discrimination in workplace against women who are pregnant, on child-care leave or who have returned to work after giving birth. It recommends measures such as disclosing company names or imposing penalties when corporations fail to prevent maternity harassment.

According to labour ministry data, women accounted for 43% of all employees Japan for 2013. The percentage of females in management positions, however, stood at around 10%, while more than 50% of working women were non-regular, part-time, or temporary employees.

The government itself is also falling short when it comes to appointing women to senior government positions.

As of July 1 2015, the ratio of women in managerial position at ministries and government offices marked a record high 3.5%, or 330 people, up 0.2 point from September last year.

However, the government failed to meet its goal of 5% by the end of 2015.

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