Terrie's Take 872 -- Womenomics - Moving Beyond the Hot Air, ebiz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun Nov 6 22:24:17 JST 2016

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term 
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan. 

General Edition Sunday, November 06, 2016, Issue No. 872

- What's New -- Womenomics - Moving Beyond the Hot Air
- News -- Foreign trainees on the lam
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback - Responses to the coming tourism backlash
- Travel Picks -- Salvador Dali in Tokyo, "forest bathing" in Kochi
- News Credits

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Late last month the World Economic Forum (WEF), based in Davos 
Switzerland, published its annual global gender gap report. The report 
shows that despite PM Abe's fine words since 2013 about empowering 
women, the gender gap in Japan has actually widened. This year Japan's 
ranking fell from 101st out of 145 countries to 111th out of 144 
countries. This is pathetic and should be a wake up call to at least 
half the nation's population that while the government may be able to 
fool the local press and some of the people most of the time, the only 
way to change this reality is to vote against it and force change.

In the WEF survey, Japan actually came in last out of the group-of-seven 
industrialized countries. However, if it is any consolation, South 
Korea, another OECD nation, came in 116th, and that is despite the fact 
the country has a woman Prime Minister.

No sooner had the WEF study come out than it was roundly criticized for 
measuring the wrong things, like whether having had a female head of 
state was a true indication of gender equality or more a function of 
nepotism among political families, and why there is no coverage of crime 
and violence statistics, by gender. These are both good points, but 
given that Japan is so enamored with multi-generational political 
families, then if nepotism was really a substitute for genuine gender 
equality we should have had several women prime ministers by now. 
Instead, women are just as underrepresented as a gender in politics as 
ever. In a 2015 survey, the Economist ranked Japan 123rd out of 189 
countries for the percentage of women serving in the national 
legislature. For example, in the Diet, women hold slightly less than 8% 
of seats in the more powerful Lower House and 19% in the Upper House.

But change is happening, you might say... Look at Tokyo Governor Yuriko 
Koike and DPJ Leader Renho... Well, our take on the rise of these two 
outstanding women is that their positions were more like consolation 
prizes than real examples of change in gender attitude. In both cases 
they were candidates stepping in to take over a disaster zone and where 
a disgusted public simply wanted change. If there was a real change in 
attitude happening then how can you explain the lack of female leaders 
in normally-functioning organizations? For example, why is only 1% of 
the nation's mayors women? Why is the nation's ultra conservative 
establishment still having a debate about the future imperial family 
heads needing to be male? No, the gender problem runs deep in Japan.

Indeed, late last year the government's gender equality bureau cut its 
goal of getting women into senior government jobs by 2020, from 30% (a 
target set in 2003 by the Koizumi government) to just 7%. The target set 
for leadership positions in the private sector was also cut, to 15%. The 
sad reality is that just 3.5% of senior government jobs and 8% of 
private sector jobs are filled by women. Perhaps more astounding, about 
66% of Japanese listed firms still have NO women on their senior 
management teams - a far cry from the 32% global average.

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[...Article continues]

The gender gap in Japan is deeply ingrained and will probably take 
several more generations and a lot of hard PR work to breed out. There 
has been a lot of conjecture about what to do about this. New laws? A 
few have been passed already, but none with teeth. Japan should probably 
take a leaf from Norway and make it a legal requirement for companies to 
have 40% of their board members be female. However, it's difficult to 
imagine the government or the judiciary having the willpower to enforce 
such a law, especially when the courts can't even give married women the 
right to have an independent surname to their spouses (and thus 
pressuring wives to take the male's surname).

Then there are so many seemingly innocuous traditions and reminders that 
boys have been more valued in this society. Take for example Children's 
Day, which used to be Boy's Day (Tango no Sekku on May 5th) and which 
was made a national holiday. In the meantime, Girl's Day (Hinamatsuri on 
March 3) didn't qualify for holiday status and so parents instead have 
to shift celebrations to the nearest weekend.

In 2013, PM Abe wrote a compelling article for the Wall Street Journal 
that spoke about his vision for Womenomics. He recognized the 
contributions of Kathy Matsui to raising awareness of the problem and 
committed that his government would increase the labor participation 
rate in Japan to 73% by 2020, by helping women return from child rearing 
and reenter the workforce and by closing the salary gap which at that 
time was 30.2% (compared with 20.1% in the U.S.). He then presented this 
content a second time a week later at a UN conference. Unfortunately 
while Abe is big on words, he is short on results and thus the 30% -> 7% 
cut in the target to get women into senior positions. True, while he has 
been PM the number of women active in the workforce has increased, but 
we believe this is driven more from a need to improve family finances 
than anything the government is doing. As a result, most of these women 
going back to work are stuck at the lowest levels of the economy and 
thus the lowest wages.

In June this year the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) did a 
good job of working up a recipe of points that the government should act 
on to help close the gender gap. Reading through them makes you realize 
just how much the problem is not just one of legislation but also of 
having to re-educate future generations about gender values.

http://bit.ly/2frOon9 (ACCJ viewpoint access)

1. Reform working hours: Change the corporate culture of spending long 
hours in the office that encourages unproductive overtime. [Ed: This 
speaks directly to the issue of working mothers having to leave at 17:00 
each day to look after kids and family while their colleagues stay on 
until 20:00 or later. In leaving early, these women become subject to 
harassment and criticism by colleagues who feel they are not doing their 
fair share. This speaks in turn to the low rate of productivity in 
Japanese companies and thus how deep the gender problem goes.]

2. Support male champions of change: Encourage male leaders to promote 
gender equality in corporate Japan and the public sector. [Ed: I.e., 
normalize gender equality through top down (management) approval of rule 
changes - this won't work unless there is bottom-up re-education as 
well. Top-down mandates alone will be seen by Japanese employees as just 
"noise" while they deal with real world problems like competitors and 

3. Foster "ikumen" culture: Encourage men to be more active in raising 
their children and assisting with housework... [Ed: ...so that the idea 
of supporting your wife and taking on family responsibilities becomes 
fashionable. Pretty hard to do this while most of the business world 
judges you for promotion based on the hours you work. Maybe this will 
change more quickly as we move to a knowledge economy, where skill and 
know-how trump physical endurance and time spent in the office.]

4. Increase transparency on women in leadership roles: Strengthen 
requirements for transparency related to the gender mix of management and
executive positions in private and public companies. [Ed: This is a 
direct shot at Japan's weak reporting laws for companies of 300 people 
or over, where they are supposed to implement gender balancing policies 
but have no penalties for not doing so.]

5. Create a new type of labor contract: Allow companies and employees to 
conclude labor contracts that encourage women to return to the workforce as
regular employees and retain pay and promotion opportunities. [Ed: 
Personally we think this isn't necessary, as there are plenty of scope 
for a company to come to a private agreement with an employee on child 
leave. The problem isn't contracts, it's management's attitude.]

6. Provide tax incentives: Create tax breaks that target corporations 
(to encourage them to hire and promote more women) and individuals (to
reduce financial burdens on families, including single mothers). [Ed: 
This is a no-brainer and should be implemented as soon as possible. The 
same goes for employment of disabled people.]

7. Bring seniors in as before- and after-school childcare providers: 
Support working mothers by tapping into Japan?s growing ranks of 
retirees to staff childcare centers. [Ed: This is a good idea but it 
lets the government off the hook for its failure to supply enough 
child-minding facilities in the first place. Our company has two working 
mothers who are struggling to find daycare, despite the willingness of 
both moms to return to work. Abe's government bears 100% of the blame 
for this ongoing mess.]

8. Ease employment restrictions for domestic workers: Revise Japan's 
immigration policies to make it easier to hire foreign nationals as domestic
workers, which will provide working parents with another childcare 
option. [Ed: This idea has become reality but unfortunately you will 
have to be located in a so-called "special zone", such as in the middle 
of Tokyo, to take advantage of it. Why the government starves the 
regions of innovation with ridiculous special zone designations is 
beyond us.]

9. Encourage HR-led talent management and training: Support the 
evolution of strong HR departments whose programs foster diversity, 
inclusion and the empowerment of women in the workplace. [Ed: Another 
no-brainer. What about some METI subsidies for companies to buy in this 
training? Otherwise, it will only be delivered at the top 300-1,000 
companies, who employ less than 10% of the workforce and even less of 
the female workforce.]

10. Provide employee assistance programs: Build employee assistance 
programs and offer supplemental programs that include concierge services
such as childcare, nursing care, self-improvement and health and 
wellness management. [Ed: Such services would be nice for large 
companies to implement, but it's hard to see them taking root in smaller 
companies, most of whom are simply struggling to survive.]

In closing, we would have dropped Items #6 and #10 from the ACCJ list 
and instead added a call for the government to set up a special 
investment fund for women entrepreneurs. After all, if there is one 
category of employer in the country who doesn't need deep mental 
re-programming to value female employees, it's a woman who has been 
through the mill herself. In this way, those women willing to extend the 
risk they have already taken to challenge the glass ceiling can finally 
gain control of their professional lives, gather like-minded talent 
around them, and prove to the community that a more caring attitude and 
fairer treatment can create an equally competitive company. Nothing like 
some good examples of financial success in our midst to change the 
hardened attitudes of their all-male competitors.

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+++ NEWS

- Will the real resigned Mr. Kuroda please stand up?
- Foreign trainees on the lam
- Shake-out in shipping sector
- 14 months for killing pedestrian while playing phone game
- Daiichi frozen wall a failure?

=> Will the real resigned Mr. Kuroda please stand up?

Kind of funny non-event happened in the money markets on Friday. A 
well-followed day trader tweeted that a press conference had announced 
the resignation of "Kuroda". Other day traders jumped to the conclusion 
that he was talking about Haruhiko Kuroda, the governor of the Bank of 
Japan, and scrambled to place orders to buy yen. It took about 30 
minutes and 150 re-tweets later before people realized that he was 
talking about Hiroki Kuroda, the pitcher for the Hiroshima Carp baseball 
team. ***Ed: Such is the life of a day trader, where you have a short 
window to trade on market news.** (Source: TT commentary from 
bloomberg.com, Nov 04, 2016)


=> Foreign trainees on the lam

According to the Justice Ministry, a record 5,803 foreign trainees went 
missing last year while in training programs. Of these more than half 
were from China, with Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia making up most of 
the rest. Labor rights groups say that the disappearance of trainees as 
they move to better jobs is a clear indication that the trainee program 
is abusive to participants, and have in the past referred to the program 
as slavery. ***Ed: The Immigration Bureau does not say whether the 
record number is disappeared trainees is also a record in terms of 
percentage of people coming to Japan to work on farms and in factories. 
However, because the government is still planning to ramp up the number 
of trainees we're guessing the percentage is actually going down not 
up... meaning that the government thinks the benefits of more trainees 
outweighs any risks. Yeah, especially if you're only paying those people 
30% of the going Japanese rate, working them 100+ hours overtime a 
month, and can kick them out again after three years. The whole program 
is shameful and should be scrapped.** (Source: TT commentary from 
japantimes.co.jp, Oct 31, 2016)


=> Shake-out in shipping sector

Because of a glut of shipping capacity around the world, but 
particularly in Asia, Japan's three largest shipping firms have agreed 
to merge and in the process create the world's sixth largest shipping 
firm. The three companies, Nippon Yusen, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and 
Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, say that the new combined firm will result in 
savings of about JPY110bn. Their move comes after the August collapse of 
Hanjin Shipping of South Korea, and a fear that a Japanese bankruptcy 
might not be far behind. About 98% of the world's exports travel in 
container ships and currently there is a 30% oversupply, forcing most 
shippers to operate at a loss - estimated between the biggest 20 firms 
to be around US$8bn-US$10bn this year alone. (Source: TT commentary from 
wsj.com, Oct 31, 2016)


=> 14 months for killing pedestrian while playing phone game

A 39-year old farmer, Keiji Goo, is the center of an online shi*t storm 
after running over a 72-year old pensioner while he was driving and 
playing a Pokemon Go session on his smartphone. Goo also ran over a 
second person, a 60 year old, putting that person in hospital. Public 
comments on the web reflect outrage at the leniency of his sentence, 
which one person said was "obscene". This is the third death caused by a 
distracted Pokemon Go player in Japan. (Source: TT commentary from 
telegraph.co.uk, Nov 01, 2016)


=> Daiichi frozen wall a failure?

It seems that TEPCO's JPY34.5bn effort to freeze a 1.5km stretch of soil 
at the troubled Daiichi nuclear power plant so as to slow the flow of 
contaminated water leaking into the ocean is a bust, so far. TEPCO has 
admitted that the unprecedented number of typhoons to hit the area have 
raised both water flows and temperature of underground water. As a 
result, the soil is not freezing as designed and another solution may be 
required. Currently water from the surrounding hills is flowing into the 
basements of reactors 1, 2, and 3 at a rate of up to 1,000 tons a day. 
The target flow if the ice wall starts working is 70 tons - at which 
point the water scrubbing plants being installed will be adequate to 
bring the toxic flow under control. (Source: TT commentary from 
asia.nikkei.com, Nov 03, 2016)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of 
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.


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=> Salvador Dali Exhibit at the NACT, Tokyo
An intimate look into the world of Salvador Dali

The Tokyo National Art Center is Japan's fifth art institution to be 
organized by the national government. It has some of the largest 
exhibition spaces in Japan, which vary by season and are built to 
uniquely fit the works showcased. Being in an international friendly 
city, the National Art Center routinely features works that span across 
time and region. Whether you're familiar with Salvador Dali or not, the 
exhibition is full of surprises and will keep you engaged as you enter 
the world of surrealism incarnate.

 From the pamphlet itself to the entrance of the exhibition, the design 
that went into the space is something Dali would be proud of. The 
exhibition leads like a book, chapter 1-8 featuring the life of Salvador 
Dali throughout his years. There are great explanations between works in 
English and Japanese, along with an audio tour option. Throughout the 
chapters, one can see how Dali's style changes and develops. The works 
and sketches become more complex and larger as more people influence 
Salvador Dali throughout his life. Guests can learn intimate details 
about his life, as he fuses surrealism with many other styles and 
mediums in his works.

The works themselves are a beautiful puzzle of symbolism and color. Some 
are as crazy and scattered as the master himself, which leaves guests 
laughing when they come across a scene like "French Bread with Two Fried 
Eggs, without a plate, and on horseback." There are recurring motifs in 
his works which are quite whimsical and can leave one wondering what 
kind of world Dali lived in. There are also two visual rooms where his 
short films play for guests to see. At the end of the elaborate exhibit 
there's an interactive souvenir shop where many unique Dali mementos 
lie, just in case you want to keep a little piece of madness for yourself.


=> Forest Bathing In Kochi's Temples
Old Tiger Henro 6

Forest bathing, or shinrin yoku in Japanese, refers to the restorative 
effects of relaxing in nature. I felt I was doing this, bathing in the 
forests, when I henro-ed at Kochi's Temples 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32. They 
were all havens of natural and untouched surroundings. The dense woods 
also provided a bit of mystery to the main temples' adjacent shrines, 
statues, stone monuments, as though these were playing peek-a-boo from 
behind the trees, for I sometimes had to look twice to ensure I was not 
seeing things. And sometimes maybe I was.

Dainichiji Temple 28 at the foot of Mount Sanpo is reached via a steep 
ascent on roughly hewn granite steps, through overhanging fir, pine, and 
bamboo. Dainichiji's deities can be prayed to for cures of illnesses of 
the head and upper torso, and success in academic life. I can believe 
it, it must be the shinrin yoku effect, which is regarded as "the 
medicine of simply being in a forest".

I walked over a country road surrounded by farmland to reach Kokubunji 
Temple 29. A cedar-lined corridor led to the temple which, with its 
faded wood carvings, accompanying juzo and Kannon, all against a curtain 
of green, temporarily staunched my desire for a pastry and coffee. 
Zenrakuji Temple 30 was a splendor of greenery, with little walking 
trails by the side of the temple for plenty of shinrin yoku. The Temple, 
despite no Lemon Pledge, is beautiful with age and character.




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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