Chapter 7: Japanese Equal Employment Opportunity Law: Implications for Diversity Management in Japan
Nadine Courmadias, Yuka Fujimoto and Charmine E.J. Härtel Introduction Japan is a soft-spoken nation when it comes to change for social equality. To date, Japan’s soft law approach has been described as one of the most significant characteristics of Japanese legislation and is known as the preferred Asian way (Araki, 2000: 466; Peng, 2000: 13). Along with Japan’s soft law approach, the dominant symbol of Japanese organizations has been its discriminatory work practices against women (Lam, 1992). In the year 2006, despite the UN’s ranking of Japan as 7th in the Human Development Index, in the same report, Japan was rated 69th in the Gender-related Development Index and 42nd for the Gender Empowerment Index, indicating serious gender inequality in the country (United Nations Development Programme, 2006). Ichiro Ozawa, former chief secretary of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said that the soft law approach taken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL) was a quiet revolution to make a patient call for social change (Webster, 1999). When the EEOL was introduced, the Japanese legislature claimed that it was the way to an effective long-term solution for gender inequity (Parkinson, 1989; Araki, 2000: 466). Whether or not these views were accurate, this approach is no longer seen as legitimate to resolve the gender inequality in Japan. Even with the decline in lifetime employment and seniority promotion coupled with the increase in skill shortage in its internal labor market, gender inequity is largely embedded in Japanese work practices and culture (Benson et...
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