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The Prime Minister in Action

Japan Association for Female Executives (JAFE) Seminar

February 18, 2015

Photograph of the Prime Minister raising a toast

Photograph of the Prime Minister raising a toast

  • Photograph of the Prime Minister raising a toast
  • Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering an address

[Provisional Translation]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the Japan Association for Female Executives (JAFE) Seminar held in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“In December 2013, I was invited to attend the new start of the Japan Association for Female Executives, where I delivered an address. Then, in June last year, we revised the Growth Strategy, and reaffirmed “a society in which women shine” as a top-priority issue of the Abe administration. In such a society, all women can fully and freely express their ability in the workplace and in society. This is absolutely essential for the growth of the Japanese economy to continue. I have always insisted on this, and I believe that, during the last two years, these ideas have steadily been gaining traction in all aspects of Japanese society.

During the last two years, the number of working women has increased by 800,000. Even among the generation of women who are raising children, the number of those who are active in the workplace is steadily increasing. Private sector companies have also started to respond. Members of the Three Economic Associations are taking the lead in having women be actively involved. Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation), under the enthusiastic leadership of Chair Sakakibara, is proactively striving to achieve these goals, and already one-third of Keidanren's member companies have compiled Action Plans to advance women's activities. There are also cases of industries as a whole making such efforts. For example, banks tend to be seen as rigid and conservative, but in the field of local banks, the way of thinking has emerged that it is a huge loss for a talented female bank employee to quit her job in the event of her husband's work transfer, and measures are being implemented to establish a system whereby such women could be re-employed at a different bank.

There are four women playing an active role in the Abe Cabinet. They flexibly exchange heated discussions with the opposition parties in the Diet, and I feel that the tone of the live televised broadcasts of Diet sessions has changed considerably. As Chair of the LDP Policy Research Council and Minister in charge of Administrative Reform, Minister Inada has been involved in the reform of agricultural cooperatives from the beginning. I believe that, just like Joan of Arc, Minister Inada has accomplished outstanding success in overcoming difficulties and achieving results. In fact it can be said that it is Minister Inada, as Chair of the Policy Research Council, who is battling the opposition parties and the areas of vested interests.

In the general election at the end of last year, the coalition government received an enormous amount of support. The percentage of female members of the House of Representatives is also shifting to an increase. In September last year, leaders from around the world gathered in Tokyo to participate in the first “Women’s Davos Forum.” In her speech there, Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, quoted pioneering Japanese feminist Raicho Hiratsuka’s words, “In the beginning, woman was the sun.”

I would like Japan to shine again in the middle of the world, and all women in international society, where there continues to be ceaseless confusion, to illuminate both Japan and the entire world. The Abe administration will further accelerate the establishment of an society where all women can actively participate. Aiming for the elimination of childcare waiting lists, over the past two years, we have increased the capacity of childcare facilities by 200,000 children, as promised. We will also ensure that the remaining 200,000-child capacity is certainly provided, and have duly secured the necessary tax base to achieve this.

Although the increase in the consumption tax has been postponed for a year, all of the elements in the children and child-rearing support system will begin this April, as planned. We will also newly submit the bill on promoting active participation by women to the Diet as soon as possible. Starting this April, all large companies will decide their Action Plans. I am sure that an increase in actively participating women will also result in a change in the way that men work. When I was a boy, it was an era that was characterized by extremely dedicated white-collar workers and fathers who spent hardly any time at home. However, it will be difficult to build a bright future for Japanese society if we continue in this manner. Over the last 20 years, working hour averages have hardly decreased at all. There are still only a few company employees who take the all the holidays due to them. And even in families where both spouses work, the amount of time spent by women on tasks such as house-keeping and child-rearing is as much as five times more than that spent on these activities by men.

Men and women together can enjoy both working and family life. They can take all of their paid holidays and treasure time spent at home. I am positive that having a fulfilling personal life will lead to the birth of new ideas, and also result in a richer lifestyle. I am convinced that a society in which all women shine will result in a Japan where men also shine. We will steadily proceed with both reforms of styles of working as well as policies to achieve these goals.

All members of the Japan Association for Female Executives have valuable experiences and are wonderful role models. I would like you to foster the female leaders of the next generation, and hope you will carry out that role. In order to develop a society in which all women shine, I would like to act in conjunction with you.”


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