chapter  10
20 Pages

Equal employment for women in the Japanese employment system: limitations and obstacles

The empirical evidence presented and discussed in the previous chapters indicates that neither market pressures nor the EEO Law have caused Japanese companies to introduce fundamental reforms in their employment and personnel management systems. Although there have been some changes in companies’ policies on women, especially after the introduction of the EEO Law, none of the policy adaptations have sought to change the nature of the rules governing job assignment, promotion and career structure in the core employment system. The model of change adopted by the companies is based on the premise that only those women with the ‘right ability and motivation’ (noryoku to iyoku aru josei) —meaning those who can conform to the existing organisational rules and practices like their male counterparts-will be granted equal opportunities. The ‘two-track employment system’, beginning to be widely adopted by an increasing number of major companies in recent years, typifies the superficiality of the companies’ responses to the demands for equal opportunities. The policy responses have had very little effect in reducing the structural sources of inequality between the sexes.