Gender Equality

The Changing Role of Women in Japan's Elite Diplomatic Corps

Main image to the post The Changing Role of Women in Japan's Elite Diplomatic Corps

In 1987, Masako Owada entered Japan's elite diplomatic corps when there were only three female recruits, marking a significant moment as the country had recently enacted an equal employment law. Working diligently as a trade negotiator under the name Masako Owada, she faced long hours and rapid career growth before eventually leaving her job to marry Crown Prince Naruhito, who is now the Emperor.

Over the years, Japan's Foreign Ministry has undergone a transformative shift, particularly in its recruitment practices and the retention of female diplomats. In recent times, women have increasingly become a significant part of each entering class of diplomats, with their numbers nearing parity with male recruits. This shift signifies a departure from the historical trend where women were predominantly restricted to clerical roles until the 1980s, showcasing a gradual but meaningful change in the workplace dynamics within the ministry.

The increasing presence of women within Japan's diplomatic corps not only reflects a shift in recruitment patterns but also highlights a broader societal change in the role of women in the workforce. With more women choosing to pursue and sustain their careers even after marriage, there is a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion in shaping organizational cultures and creating pathways for female leadership. The progress made over the past few decades serves as a testament to how incremental changes in gender representation can pave the way for a more equitable and diverse workforce, ultimately benefiting both individuals and the wider society.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09