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Japan ranks 120th in global gender gap index, 2nd lowest level ever

Only two women are seen in Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet in this photo taken at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Sept. 16, 2020. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)
A woman is seen holding up a sign protesting against sexist remarks by Yoshiro Mori, then president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, in this photo taken in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on Feb. 7, 2021. (Mainichi/Masahiro Ogawa)

TOKYO -- Japan has placed 120th out of 156 countries in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index for 2020, which measures disparity between men and women, results announced on March 31 show.

    Japan's position was one rank below Angola, an oil-producing country in Africa that had a long-term dictatorship. Although Japan improved from 121st place among 153 countries in 2019 -- its lowest rank ever -- it was the second lowest position Japan has been in. The gender gap in Japan's political and economic fields did not improve, and the nation also ranked the lowest among G-7 countries.

    The Switzerland-based think tank's index formulates and quantifies the gender gap in 14 items in four fields -- politics, the economy, education and health -- in each country. In 2020, Japan's gender equality achievement rate stood at 65.6%, practically on par with the 65.2% it scored in 2019.

    Japan came in 147th place (144th in 2019) in the political field, which is mainly based on the ratio of female members in the Diet; 117th place (115th in 2019) in the economic field mainly based on the ratio of female managers; 92nd place (91st in 2019) in the education field based on the literacy rate and enrollment rate; and 65th place (40th in 2019) in the health field based mainly on healthy life expectancy.

    The country with the smallest gender gap in the world has been Iceland since 2019, with an equality achievement rate of 89.2%. The period needed for closing the gender gap worldwide is estimated at 135 years. Due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, the period has expanded significantly from when it was estimated at 99.5 years in 2019.

    (Japanese original by Aya Shiota, Integrated Digital News Center)

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