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Japan crawls up to 110th in global gender gap ranking but women's participation still low

This screen capture shows the cover of the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 released by the World Economic Forum.

TOKYO -- Japan's ranking in the Global Gender Gap Index for 2018 nudged up to 110th among 149 nations from the previous year's record low of 114th among 144, but women's political and economic participation remained poor, according to the Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) think tank.

Overall, global gender parity improved slightly from the previous year when measured by four yardsticks -- economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, and health and survival. The slow pace of improvement was largely due to stagnation in the ratio of women in the workplace and the declining political representation of women, the WEF report said.

It will take 108 years to close the global gender gap at the current rate, and 202 years to do so in the workplace, according to the report.

Japan's gender gap score in political empowerment remained the lowest among the four pillars at 125, worsening from last year's 123rd, and its ranking in economic participation and opportunity was 117th, falling from 114th in 2017. These declines offset the improvement in the educational attainment ranking, which climbed from 74th in 2017 to 65th this year.

Japan is the lowest ranking country among the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Among the Group of 20 major countries, its standing was only higher than South Korea (115th), Turkey (130th) and Saudi Arabia (141st).

Meanwhile, Iceland was again judged the most gender-equal country across the globe for the 10th consecutive year, followed by Nordic countries such as Norway, Sweden and Finland. Nicaragua came in fifth and Rwanda sixth. Yemen remained at the bottom of the list.

WEF executive chairman Klaus Schwab commented, "Proactive measures that support gender parity and social inclusion and address historical imbalances are essential for the health of the global economy as well as for the good of society as a whole."

(By Hiroaki Wada, Staff Writer)

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