Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a new plan to revitalize the sagging Japanese economy and jump-start the labor force: add more women.
Japan’s employment rate for women is one of the lowest in developed countries, mostly because two-thirds of Japanese women leave the workforce after the birth of their first child. But since his decisive victory in last month’s parliamentary elections, Abe said he wants Japan to be a world leader in work equality. Abe’s new economic plan includes financial incentives for companies to promote women, expanded maternity leave, and increased day-care funding in an effort to get more women, especially mothers, back into the Japanese work force.
The government is even trying to challenge cultural norms about childcare by portraying active dads as caped superheroes. If Abe’s plan works, Japan could add as many as 8 million workers to its slowly declining workforce, which officials hope would boost household incomes and jolt the stagnant Japanese economy out of decades of deflation.