New 2023 Gender Gap Report Shows Women’s Progress Slipping in Japan

New 2023 Gender Gap Report Shows Women’s Progress Slipping in Japan

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Gender equality in Japan
Picture: viola / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
The latest Gender Gap report from the World Economic Forum shows Japan sliding even further in its support for gender equality.

This week, the World Economic Forum released its annual Gender Gap Report. Japan has floundered near the bottom of the WEF’s rankings for several years running. Sadly, the country’s inability to advance women in national politics and business dragged it down even lower in 2023.

125th out of 146 countries

The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap report measures the difference in treatment between men and women in 146 countries. It breaks down each measurement into a number of categories, such as educational attainment, economic participation and opportunity, health & survival, and political empowerment.

In 2022, Japan ranked 116th place out of 146 countries. This year, the situation is even more direr, as the nation fell to 125th place.

The primary driver? Politics. Japan scored a mere 138th in women’s participation in the political sphere. That puts it ahead of only a handful of countries, including Iran and Afghanistan, and behind countries such as Qatar (133) and even Saudi Arabia (131).

Looking further into the details, Japan occupied 131st place in elected female representatives in national politics. As we’ve covered before, only 10% of Japan’s representatives to the National Diet are female.

On the positive side, we saw clear progress in the last election in 2022. 33.2% of candidates were women, and women comprised 28% of those elected. However, given the historical inequality, this only nudged the needle slightly.


The main obstacle to progress is the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which controls 262 of the 465 seats in both houses of the Diet. Only 9.24% of the LDP’s elected Diet members are female. In the last election, the party stood a mere 6% of female candidates for office.

The LDP also sucks when it comes to Cabinet positions. Only 10.5% of the ministers serving under Prime Minister Kishida Fumio are women.

The LDP had previously pledged to raise women’s participation in politics to 30% by 2020. It has since changed that goal to 35% by 2030.

Lagging economically, too

Money (yen)

The leader in political gender equality? The Japan Community Party (JCP). Over 50% of its 10 elected Diet representatives are women. And over half of the party’s 43 elected city and prefectural reps are women too. The Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) comes in second at just over 39% nationally. However, the party only stood women for 27% of its positions last cycle.

Japan has never had a female Prime Minister.

Japan also lags behind in economic indicators of equality. On the plus side, it ranks 80th and 75 in workforce participation and equal pay for equal work. However, women are generally hired for poorer-paying positions, ranking Japan 100th in overall income equality.

The country ranks a distant 133rd place when it comes to women in management and leadership positions.

East Asia and the Pacific lag overall

Of course, it’s not all bad news. Japan earned solid marks from the WEF in terms of health and survival (59th). The country also consistently scores well in educational attainment (47th), despite several high-profile scandals in years past showing how women were excluded from some of the country’s prestigious medical universities.

Overall, says the WEF, East Asia and the Pacific occupy 5th place among the eight regions it defines and describes the region’s progress as “stagnating”. The Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand lead the region, with the latter two showing the most improvement. Fiji, Myanmar, and Japan round out the bottom of the list.

Worldwide, the World Economic Forum says this year’s Gender Gap shows a 4.1% improvement since the first report in 2006.

The group says that, at this current rate, it’ll take humanity 133 years to close the global gender gap completely.

The Feminist Movement in Japan: Unseen Japan’s Complete Guide


ジェンダーギャップ指数2023、日本は125位に順位を下げる。政治分野は「世界で最も低いレベル」と指摘. Huffington Post JP

Global Gender Gap Report 2023. World Economic Forum

共産党 女性議員比率が第1党. Japan Communist Party

統一地方選挙 女性候補者の数・割合ともに過去最高に. NHK News

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Jay Allen

Jay manages the technical writing practice for ercule, an SEO, content strategy and analytics firm. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

Japan in Translation

Subscribe to our free newsletter for a weekly digest of our best work across platforms (Web, Twitter, YouTube). Your support helps us spread the word about the Japan you don’t learn about in anime.

Want a preview? Read our archives

You’ll get one to two emails from us weekly. For more details, see our privacy policy