Elusive Equality: Rhetoric Not Enough for Japan’s Working Women


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be keen to tout Japan’s untapped labor force, but will he go beyond the rhetoric?

Heenali Patel writes:  “I used to be a helicopter pilot, I loved it. But since having a child I quit. I don’t think I will work again for a long time.”

I am at a local center, where residents may to socialize and host events. A group of women sits before me. We have been discussing their interests and aspirations for an hour. I look around at them, and see engaging and sociable individuals. They all share two things in common: each went to university and each quit their jobs after having a child. Although it is all well and good to choose family over career, the predictability of the career paths of these women is unsettling. Here, they treat it as part of a standard expectation. A working lifestyle in Japan is not compatible with motherhood, or so these women have been led to believe.

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