Activities of Japan's National Machinery for Gender Equality
In Japan, the Government has responded to the efforts of the United Nations and other international organizations by working actively to advance the status of women. Women have played vital roles in the economic, social and cultural life of the Japanese people, a fact that often goes unrecognized. Japan has been making efforts to create a society based on equal participation and partnership between women and men.
Milestones in the Promotion of Programs for Gender Equality by the Government of Japan
|1975||Establishment of the Headquarters for the Planning and Promoting of Policies Relating to Women in the Prime Ministers Office|
|1977||Formulation of a National Plan of Action for the period 1977-1986 by the Headquarters|
|1981||Formulation of Priority Targets for the Second Half of the Period covered by the National Plan of Action|
|1985||Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women|
|1986||Reinforcement of the Headquarters to involve all Ministries and Agencies, in line with the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women|
|1987||Formulation of a New National Plan of Action Toward the Year 2000|
|1991||Revision of the New National Plan of Action|
|1992||Appointment of the Chief Cabinet Secretary as Japan's first Minister for Women's Affairs (this has become standard practice since that time)|
|1994||Inauguration for the Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality, replacing the Headquarters for the Planning and Promoting of Policies Relating to Women; Establishment of the Office for Gender Equality in the Prime Ministers Office|
Since the early 1980s, with the formulation of the Priority Targets by the Headquarters for the Planning and Promoting of Policies Relating to Women, improvement in the situation of women has been a major legislative and administrative priority. The first half of the 1980s saw such legislative achievements as an increase in the promotion of spousal inheritance, the adoption of a bilineal system in determining nationality through birth, the enactment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, in view of the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1985.
The second half of the 1980s saw continued advances in women's status. Current efforts under the New National Plan of Action have brought the following major changes.
Legislative measures include: changes in the national courses of study for school education; enforcement of the Child-care Leave Law and enforcement of the Law Concerning the Improvement of Personnel Management, etc., of Part-time Workers; enactment of the Family-care Leave Law; revision of the Farmers' Pension Fund Law; and ongoing efforts to revise laws pertaining to marriage and divorce.
Reinforcement of the National Machinery
The Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality, newly established within the Cabinet by a Cabinet Decision in July 1994, has been reinforced with all Cabinet Ministers, instead of vice-ministers, as members, including the Prime Minister as President, and the Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Women's Affairs as Vice President. Also, the Office for Gender Equality, its secretariat and the Council for Gender Equality, an advisory organ to the Prime Minister, were formally set up in the Prime Ministers Office by Cabinet orders in June 1994. The Headquarters promotes policies aimed at creating a society of equal participation by women and men in all areas and at all levels, targeting not only women but also men, inter alia, their attitudes, life styles, and male-dominant social structure to be tackled.
Cooperation with Local Autonomies and Non-Governmental Organizations
A division or section in charge of women's affairs has been set up in each of 47 prefectural governments and 12 designated municipalities, and they have also formulated their own plans of action for the advancement of women. The Headquarters, mainly through the Office for Gender Equality and each Ministry and Agency, carries out various programs and measures to support and liaison regarding the activities of Local Public Autonomies in the areas of women's advancement and gender equality; and the Ministry of Home Affairs has started financial support of their programs and measures through local allocation tax grants.
Various women's non-governmental organizations have actively carried out diverse activities throughout Japan. Above all, the Liaison Group for the Implementation of the Resolutions of the International Women's Year Conference of Japan, a group of 52 major nationwide women's non-governmental organizations established in 1975, held national conferences in 1975, 1980 and 1985, following the World Conference on Women, and formulated an NGO Plan of Action Toward the Year 2000 in 1987. The Headquarters has close contacts with those groups and organizations through appointing some representatives of major organizations to be members of the Council of Gender Equality and of the National Committee of Japan for the Fourth World Conference on Women established in 1993 with the Prime Minister, President of the Headquarters, as President, and the Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Women's Affairs, 22 vice-ministers of governmental ministries and agencies, and 33 leading figures from the private sector, who have formed the NGO Subcommittee. It organizes many kinds of meetings to give information, and disseminates NGO Newsletters and other materials, etc.
Future Plan to Follow Up on the Fourth World Conference on Women
The Headquarters is planning, in addition to incorporating the Platform for Action into national policy measures, to strengthen its ties with the national machineries of Asian countries through holding meetings and disseminating information on government policies relating to women and gender equality and movement of women's NGOs as one of the programs to follow up on the Fourth World Conference on Women.
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