TOKYO (majirox news) – Japanese women once studied how to be a good wife, learning how to cook, perform a tea ceremony and arrange flowers. Today a record number of Japanese women are working outside the home.
In 2010, employment for Japanese women, even those who were married and had children, rose 0.8 percent to 23.29 million, an increase of 1.8 million. The jump was mainly due to part-time employment and the country’s economic recovery before the March 11 earthquake, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare report called “The Real Condition of Working Women” published on May 20.
The employment rate for married women from 25 to 29 years of age was 50.4 percent and for women 30 to 34 years of age it was 52 percent. These figures represent an increase of more than 10 percentage points each compared to 10 years ago.
Much of the increase can be ascribed to women working in the medical and welfare fields, which increased to 4.8 million workers, a 5.2 percent increase from 2009. The wholesale and retail trade also increased to 4.7 million employees, a 4 percent increase from 2009.
“Japan is heading toward an elderly society, so these are the more feasible jobs for women, which means taking care of older people,” said Kei Kato of Grammen Women in Tokyo.
However, she believes women should study subjects and look for jobs that interest them. “Women should think about themselves and what kind of life and profession they want to have,” Kato said. “On the other hand, if a woman chooses she wants to raise children and stay at home, that’s also fine.”
It was not always easy for women to find full-time jobs. The number of female part-time workers increased 1.8 percent, while numbers for full-time employment remained the same as 2009. And the ministry said wages of women workers were about 69.3 percent of wages earned by men.
“We are not saying women have caught up with men,” said Ai Nishida, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Consumer Statistics Department “The wages are still lower for women. Men usually make more in earnings in most fields and come out ahead.”
While women have more choices today, they still have a ways to go before the wage gap is closed.