Haruko Arimura, Japan's minister in charge of administrative reform and gender equality, speaks during an interview in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, May 8, 2015. Japan should fix its shrinking workforce by enabling women to work, before turning to the "Pandora's box" of immigration, the country's minister for the empowerment of women said in an interview last week. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Akio Kon — Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Chris Matthews
August 28, 2015

Japanese lawmakers have passed a law that would require large companies to publicly set goals for hiring and promoting women to managerial roles, according to a report in the Associated Press.

The law, which passed by a vote of 230-1 in the House of Councillors, is aimed at increasing gender equality in the workplace. Japan ranks quite low in international measures of general equality, such as the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index. The WEF ranking has Japan ranked at 104th out of 142 assessed countries, below even emerging-market nations like Indonesia.

The law isn’t just about gender equality. Japan faces a demographic crisis, as its working-age population has long been shrinking and it is now facing projections of absolute population decline that could have a devastating effect on its economy. Encouraging more women to work could mitigate this problem.

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