The status of women in Japan: Has the Equal Employment Opportunity Law made a difference?

Edwards, Linda N.

In April, 1986 the Japanese Equal Employment Opportunity Law went into effect. This law prohibits gender discrimination with respect to vocational training, fringe benefits, retirement and dismissal, and urges firms to try to equalize opportunity with regard to recruitment, hiring, job assignment, and promotion. Evaluating this law soon after its passage, Edwards (1988) predicted that it was not likely to have a significant impact on Japanese women's labor market opportunities- not so much because of its weak enforcement provisions, but rather because of the way in which the personnel policies of Japanese firms interact with the labor supply patterns of Japanese women. In this paper I assess the accuracy of Edwards' prediction by examining data for the period since the law's passage to determine if there have been any measurable effects. In addition, I discuss new developments in the Japanese economy that herald an improved labor market outlook for Japanese women, and especially university graduates.

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Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 71
Published Here
February 8, 2011