Editorial: Mandate transparency to fill gender wage gap

July 4 , 2022

It’s no secret that the wage disparity between men and women workers in Japan is appallingly wide. According to the intergovernmental OECD, if the median salary of Japanese men was set at 100, then women received some 32% less, placing the country 36th among its 38 member-states.

Komeito has been working for gender equality across the socioeconomic spectrum for years, including policies and programs aimed specifically at redressing the wage gap by, as a first step, making the differences transparent. The latter is something the government is also beginning to work on.

On June 3, the government incorporated in an equal opportunity action plan aimed at companies compulsory disclosure of wage differences between men and women. Later that month, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced it was revising ministerial ordinances to that effect from July.

Komeito was the principal agent of change, when party policy czar Yuzuru Takeuchi urged Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to make a firm stand on corporate disclosure on January this year, to which Kishida promised he would.

Under the labor ministry’s newly revised ordinance, firms with more than 300 employees will be required to disclose to their entire workforce (non-permanent part-timers, as well) the average annual remuneration including basic salary, overtime and bonuses.

Obviously, disclosure is only the opening salvo in the struggle for equal pay. One of the major reasons for the discrepancy has been the abysmally low ratio of female corporate managers. A 2021 Cabinet Office survey found that a mere 12.6% of executives at Japan’s top listed enterprises were women versus nearly 40% in the United States and Europe. That harsh reality demands redress, and the onus is on companies themselves to remedy.