Women in "Japan Incorporated": Outsiders or Catalysts for Change? 

Jan 2000
Although Japan is much richer than Latin America and income distribution in Japan generally is much more equitable than in Latin America, the Japanese gender gap is one of the worst in the world, much worse than that of many Latin American countries. Using various data, I have tried in the present paper to explain the apparent paradox of the existence of a huge gender gap in an egalitarian society. The most probable explanation seems to be that women are often kept away from the mainstream system of Japan Incorporated, mainly due to career interruption for marriage and/or childbearing. Possible prescriptions for narrowing the gender gap in Japan seem to be twofold: (i) measures to include women within the mainstream system of Japan Incorporated and (ii) measures to make Japan Incorporated more humane to everyone, both men and women. Although the data presented in the paper are mainly Japanese data, there are many important lessons here for Latin America as well.