The stereotypical Japanese woman traditionally has been a quiet, obedient homemaker preoccupied with her family, someone who did not work outside the home. This image never has been the reality. Nonetheless, the process of integrating women into the workplace in Japan continues to be slowed by numerous obstacles, many of them attitudinal. Regulatory changes have been initiated to improve working conditions for women. However, further reforms are required to enable women to capitalize fully on emerging employment opportunities.
OECD ADDS VOLUME TO CHORUS OF PESSIMISTS ON JAPAN'S ECONOMIC PROSPECTS by Douglas Ostrom
The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development pulled few punches in its October 28 assessment of Japan's recent macroeconomic policy decisions. It argued that, starting in early 1997, Tokyo made the wrong choices given the economy's weakness and then took inefficient corrective measures. Partly for this reason, OECD economists predict that Japan's price-adjusted gross domestic product will shrink 2.6 percent this year and recover only with a 0.2 percent gain in 1999. Other analysts are at least as pessimistic about both the long run and the short term, a stance consistent with the latest batch of grim economic data.
LDP LAWMAKER'S ARREST EXACERBATES OBUCHI GOVERNMENT'S IMAGE PROBLEMS by Barbara Wanner
The October 29 arrest of Liberal Democratic Party member Yojiro Nakajima for alleged misuse of political subsidies was another setback for Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. It also literally hit close to home since Mr. Nakajima represents a district in the premier's home prefecture of Gunma. The LDP lawmaker's arrest came on the heels of the unprecedented October 16 upper house censure of Japan Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga for his mishandling of a defense equipment overcharging operation.
USTR CHARGES THAT JAPAN MAY UNDERCUT APEC TRADE TALKS by Eric Altbach
Top U.S. trade officials have publicly warned Japan that its reluctance to implement voluntary tariff cuts on fish and wood products could derail progress on trade liberalization at the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Washington is concerned that Tokyo's recalcitrance will slow the already flagging momentum for further trade-opening measures by the Asian Pacific economic grouping.
The Clinton administration trade policy team concedes that Japan is not going to achieve the White House-set goals for the five-year automotive trade accord hammered out in 1995 (see JEI Report No. 32B, August 21, 1998). Nevertheless, it continues to push or at least to nudge Tokyo to make regulatory and other changes that would improve the market environment for U.S. exporters of cars and trucks and suppliers of replacement parts once Japan recovers from the current recession.