During a EU-Japan journalist conference held in Kyoto by the Delegation of European Commission to Japan, dozens of journalists explored ways to dealing with Japan’s demographic issues which are leading the nation towards a future in which by 2050 there will only be 50 million people in the nation instead of its current 127 million. European speakers noted the EU has been much more successful in utilizing women than Japan. Its employment rate goals for women is that at least 70% should be in the workforce by 2010 and that Finland, Denmark and France which have higher birth rates than other EU nations have achieved a “work-life balance” by increasing flelxibility in the way workers take time off and by improving child-care services.
Despite the presence of highly educated women in Japan they continual encountering work prejudice and their advancement is blocked by male prejudice. Another factor is refusal on the part of Japanese men to assist in child rearing or house work. Most figures suggest the typical Japanese male devotes only 48 minutes a day helping with housework or child care. Japan presently ranks 54th out of 93 nations in its gender empowerement measure index according to UN figures.
A Japanese journalist at the conference noted his newspaper attempted to hire more female reporters only to encounter a storm of protest from men. A central issue is that women are being asked to choose between work and family resulting in millions opting for work at the expense of the birth rate. If Japan refuses to make changes to assist women at work with their child-rearing issues, its birth rate will continue declining and eventually only a handful of people will be left on the island. One can only assume at that point, Japanese reporters will only be too glad to have female associates.