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Japan retreats to 121st in 2019 gender equality ranking

The World Economic Forum (WEF) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. (SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty/Kyodo)

GENEVA (Kyodo) -- Japan ranked 121st among 153 countries in the gender gap rankings in 2019, down from 110th the previous year and in last place among major advanced economies, the World Economic Forum said Tuesday.

The Swiss-based organization cited low female representation in the Cabinet as well as parliament in Japan, which has never had a female prime minister. In the business field, only 15 percent of senior and leadership positions are held by women, it said.

The ratio of female lawmakers in the country's House of Representatives, the lower house, stood at 10 percent as of December, while that in the House of Councillors was 23 percent. There are only three women in the current 19-member Cabinet.

Globally, the ratio of women in parliament was 25 percent in 2019, while 21 percent of ministers were women, according to the report.

In the areas of education and health, however, the gender gap in the country has been mostly eliminated, the WEF said in the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 that analyzes women's status in the economy, education, politics and health.

Among the Group of Seven industrialized nations, Japan ranked last behind Italy, which placed 76th. Japan was also behind China in 106th, South Korea in 108th and the United Arab Emirates in 120th. The Philippines, ranking 16th, was the best performing nation in Asia.

Scandinavian countries maintained their leadership in reducing the gender gap, with Iceland topping the ranking for the 11th consecutive year. It was followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Although the global gender gap has narrowed compared to last year, "it will still require 99.5 years to achieve full parity at the current pace," the report said. Last year's report said 108 years were needed to achieve full equality.

The gender gap report has been released by the think tank every year since 2006.

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