Prolonged pandemic worsens gender gap in Japan

A Cabinet Office panel has concluded that a prolonged pandemic is likely to cause the gender gap to widen, and urged the government to act.
By: | May 18, 2021

The pandemic has impacted women harder financially in Japan as many are employed in lower-paid non-regular jobs in badly affected sectors such as restaurants and hotels, said the panel in a report released in late April. 

Despite “rapid changes in individuals’ work styles and family forms”, the traditional societal view that men were breadwinners and women were responsible for household chores and childrearing still hold sway. 

For instance, women working from home are still expected to do more housekeeping chores even if their spouses telework, the report said. In addition, young women, single mothers and unmarried female non-regular workers face more severe challenges than their male counterparts. 

As such, the minister in charge of promoting gender equality Tamayo Marukawa has urged the government to put in place policies to boost financial support for women and promote their empowerment.  

Also, noting that single mother households and unmarried women are particularly affected by the pandemic, the panel urged for improvements to labour conditions for non-regular workers and help them secure jobs in the growing digital industry. 

According to the Cabinet Office, the number of domestic violence consultations in the country, including those made online, increased by about 50% to 175,693 between April 2020 and February 2021 compared to that a year earlier.  

READ: Firms in Japan still not adopting teleworking enough, survey shows

Meanwhile, the number of suicides by women in 2020 increased by 935 to 7,026 from the previous year, with the unemployed and high school students forming an increasing proportion, the panel report said, citing National Police Agency data.