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女性教員２０％に… 男女共同参画会議、第２次基本計画案を答申 (読売 2005/12/27朝刊)
男女共同参画第２次計画案 「ジェンダー」残す 自民党と政府、苦肉の決着
Plan to improve gender equality OK'd
The Yomiuri Shimbun 2005/12/28
Women should fill 30 percent of the leading positions in every field of society by 2020, according to the second basic plan for gender equality approved in a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, government officials said.
The plan for fiscal 2006-10 was drafted by the Cabinet Office's Council for Gender Equality, which submitted it Monday to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
It contains policies due to be implemented by the end of fiscal 2010 and offers an outline of measures leading toward 2020. On top of expecting women to occupy an increased share of the leading positions in society, the plan states that 20 percent of teachers should be female by 2010, and that full-time central government employees should be allowed reduced working hours if they are providing childcare or nursing family members.
The Liberal Democratic Party had asked that the word "gender" not be used in the plan's text because the term is difficult to understand and could confuse those in the education sector. But the council, led by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, has retained the term, making it clear that it would work hard to resolve misunderstandings and promote awareness of the term to prevent its arbitrary use and interpretation.
The plan is a kind of compromise between the LDP, which is concerned that the educational sector is disrupted by extreme "gender-neutral" ideas that promote the total elimination of gender differences, and the government, which has been using the term "gender" as its keyword to encourage equality. But it remains unclear whether the plan can help stop the confusion in the educational world. The LDP's opposition also may flare up again.
The first basic plan for gender equality, approved by the Cabinet in 2000, used the English term as its keyword. The plan called for those engaged in awareness raising activities to adopt a gender-sensitive viewpoint, noting the difference between sexes based on socially accepted ideas and customs.
Based on the first plan, the Cabinet Office in autumn added in the second plan a section calling for similar awareness-raising activities.
This was opposed by an LDP working group, led by the party's acting secretary general Ichiro Aisawa, that was surveying radical sex education and gender-neutral education. The working group demanded the term gender be deleted from the entire text because it allowed an opening for radical sex education and teaching that would obfuscate family values in the name of "gender-free education."
In the educational sector, some regard gender-neutral education as denying children the chance to become aware of the differences between the sexes. In extreme cases traditional events, such as the hinamatsuri doll festival for girls in March, are not allowed, or boys and girls are made to change clothes in the same room.
Such extreme moves, which apparently confuse gender difference with sexual discrimination, alarmed some in the LDP who worried the party may face the wrath of conservative voters if the term "gender" was left unchanged.
Having noted the party's opposition, Abe told Gender Equality and Social Affairs Minister Kuniko Inoguchi, who was in charge of the basic plan, that it was a political matter so she should consult the deputy gender equality minister and the parliamentary secretary on the issue.
Abe used to be the head of the working group before becoming the chief cabinet secretary.
Having learned of Abe's moves, Eriko Yamatani, the parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office who used to be the working group's director general, took action along with a number of colleagues. They said the text should keep the term "gender," but that any room for an ambiguous interpretation of the word should be removed.
Following a period of discussion, it was decided to keep the term in the text and include explanatory sections stating that the denial of traditional customs and events such as hinamatsuri is not the goal the administration is striving toward. The text also highlighted examples of extreme cases, where schools let boys and girls sleep in the same room on school trips or made them take part in a mixed mock cavalry battle during a sports festival. The plan describes such actions as "being devoid of even basic common sense."
"We've tried to avoid any more disruptions in the educational sector. We'd like to explain the plan carefully from now on, too," Inoguchi said Monday.
Yet some in the LDP are still concerned and think the plan may not be good enough to end the confusion.
Govt. plans to encourage mothers to return to work
The Yomiuri Shimbun 2005/12/28
The government has announced a support plan for women who are seeking reemployment or who want to start their own businesses after having children and finishing child rearing.
The plan includes increasing support for local childcare services and introducing special classes at vocational schools to improve mothers' ability to find work.
To that end, the government has earmarked 2.27 billion yen in the draft fiscal 2006 budget and most of the new measures will be implemented in the new fiscal year.
About 2.64 million women, aged 25 to 54, want to work although they are currently not seeking employment. Many of them are supposedly either providing childcare or have just finished doing so.
The plan requires the government to support women's ability to raise children and to work while also looking after a family in order to create a society that encourages such practices.
For women who want to start their own businesses while taking care of children, the plan includes establishing business-oriented seminars in cooperation with local associations of commerce and chambers of commerce and industry nationwide.
Under the plan, the government will also give subsidies to local neighborhood stores that promote nursery services.
In cooperation with local governments and private companies, 12 Mother's Hello Work public employment offices will be set up to provide recruitment information.
The plan was drawn up by the Cabinet Office's council for supporting women's reemployment that includes Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, Gender Equality and Social Affairs Minister Kuniko Inoguchi and other related ministers as members.
(Dec. 28, 2005)
Tuesday, December 27, 2005 · Last updated 7:04 a.m. PT
Japan seeks to put more women in top posts
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
TOKYO -- The Japanese government endorsed measures on Tuesday that would put more women in top government posts and provide more support for working mothers at a time when the country is facing low birth rates and a looming labor shortage.
The plan, approved at a Cabinet meeting, aims to raise the percentage of women recruited to the government's top level career track to about 30 percent by 2010, from the current 21.5 percent.
It allows women working full-time in the central government to work shorter hours while raising children or caring for family members and urges male civil servants to take paternity leave, according to the plan posted on the Cabinet Office Web site. It also urges companies to rehire women who left their jobs after giving birth.
The government will come up with measures to support female entrepreneurs by providing information on how to start a business and introducing mentors, according to the plan.
Japan's birth rate reached a record low in 2004 of 1.29 children per woman, and the country faces a serious labor shortage in coming years as its population ages.
Gender equality also is a major issue in Japan where men hold most of senior managerial jobs in companies and women often quit work after they give birth for lack of child care.
Japan ranks 43rd among 80 countries in the Gender Empowerment Measure index, according to the 2005 United Nations human development report. The United States, by contrast, ranks 12th. Norway ranks first.
The index evaluates whether or not women are able to participate actively in economic and political activities and take part in decision-making by calculating women's share of earned income, the ratio of female professional and technical workers, the ratio of female administrators and managers, and the ratio of seats in parliament held by women.
On the Net:
Cabinet endorses basic plan to promote gender equality
The Japan Times: Dec. 28, 2005
A basic plan to achieve gender equality was endorsed at a Cabinet meeting Tuesday and features the goal of raising the rate at which woman are recruited for the top-level career track in the central government.
The target rate is 30 percent per year by around fiscal 2010, up from 21.5 percent for fiscal 2005.
It includes introducing part-time working hours so central government officials can continue to work while raising children or caring for other family members.
In more general measures, companies will be urged to hire women who earlier quit their jobs to care for children.
To placate conservatives, the plan says the government does not want to deny the idea of "gender distinction" or Japanese cultural traditions, including the Doll's Festival for girls on March 3, in the process of promoting gender equality.
A government advisory panel recommended Tuesday facilitating maternity leave, banning indirect discrimination and reinforcing measures against sexual harassment to tackle gender discrimination in the workplace.
Based on the proposals by the labor policy panel, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will present a bill to the Diet next year to revise the law guaranteeing equal employment opportunities for both men and women.
Women in work scheme to raise Japan's birth rate
FOREIGN STAFF (The Scotsman 2005/12/27)
JAPAN is to put more women in top-level government posts and provide more support for working mothers in a bid to halt the country's declining birth rate.
The measures, approved at a cabinet meeting yesterday, aim to raise the percentage of women recruited to the government's top-level career track to about 30 per cent by fiscal 2010, from the current 21.5 per cent.
They will allow women working full-time in the central government to work shorter hours while raising children or caring for family members and urges male civil servants to take paternity leave, according to the plan.
The scheme is a follow-up to the government's Gender Equality Basic Plan, first introduced in 2000, and also urges companies to rehire women who left their jobs after giving birth. The government also plans to support female entrepreneurs.
The endorsement comes as the nation faces a declining birth rate - hitting a record low in 2004 of 1.29 children per woman. Japan also faces a serious labour shortage in the coming years as its population ages, prompting discussions of bringing more female workers and immigrants into the workplace.
Gender equality is a major issue in Japan, where men hold most senior managerial jobs and women often quit work after they give birth due to a lack of child care centres.
This article: http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=2465922005
Last updated: 28-Dec-05 00:06 GMT