Japan’s largest business federation to advance women’s economic empowerment

Date: 03 March 2017

L-R:  Miko Oyama, Director, Female Executive Network Project Political and Social Affairs Bureau, Keidanren; Yoko Watanabe, Assistant Director, Female Executive Network Project Political and Social Affairs Bureau, Keidanren; Sanae Suyama, Executive Officer, General Manager Sompo Japan Nipponka Insurance Inc.; Kazumi Tanegashima, Executive Officer, General Manager Housing Loan Division Shinsei Bank, Limited; Mitsuru Claire Chino, Executive Officer/General Council, Legal Division, Itochu Corporation; Junko Nakagawa, Chair of the Subcommittee on Gender Diversity Keidanren, Senior Managing Director, Nomura Holdings Inc.; Haruno Yoshida, Vice Chair of the Board of Councillors Keidanren, President and Representative Director, BT Japan Corporation; Yoko Kijima, Senior Vice President, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (AFLAC); Etsuko Tsugihara, President and CEO, Sunny Side Up Inc., Mizuki Takura, Vice President, Group Strategy and Executive Office, Nomura Holdings Inc./Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
L-R: Miko Oyama, Director, Female Executive Network Project Political and Social Affairs Bureau, Keidanren; Yoko Watanabe, Assistant Director, Female Executive Network Project Political and Social Affairs Bureau, Keidanren; Sanae Suyama, Executive Officer, General Manager Sompo Japan Nipponka Insurance Inc.; Kazumi Tanegashima, Executive Officer, General Manager Housing Loan Division Shinsei Bank, Limited; Mitsuru Claire Chino, Executive Officer/General Council, Legal Division, Itochu Corporation; Junko Nakagawa, Chair of the Subcommittee on Gender Diversity Keidanren, Senior Managing Director, Nomura Holdings Inc.; Haruno Yoshida, Vice Chair of the Board of Councillors Keidanren, President and Representative Director, BT Japan Corporation; Yoko Kijima, Senior Vice President, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (AFLAC); Etsuko Tsugihara, President and CEO, Sunny Side Up Inc., Mizuki Takura, Vice President, Group Strategy and Executive Office, Nomura Holdings Inc./Nomura Securities Co. Ltd. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

During their first visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 2 March, leading female executives from Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), joined UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri for a roundtable discussion on women’s economic empowerment.

The Keidanren is the largest Japanese economic federation with a membership of more than 1,300 corporations.  The Keidanren Female Executives Mission is led by Haruno Yoshida, who is the first female Vice Chairman of the Board of Councilors at Keidanren, and includes five additional female executives from various industries in Japan.

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

“Keidanren plays a critical role in advancing women’s equality at the workplace in Japan. UN Women looks forward to working together with Keidanren to support women’s economic empowerment in Japan,” said Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Deputy Executive Director.

At the roundtable discussion, UN Women presented its work on women’s economic empowerment, including the Virtual Skills School, which will provide digital and financial literacy skills, and the Women’s Empowerment Principles, which supports companies in placing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the heart of good business practice. The discussion also included how to promote advancement of women at workplace in Japan.  

Haruno Yoshida Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Haruno Yoshida Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

The Japanese Government has set a goal for women to occupy 30 percent of leadership positions by 2020.  According to the Keidanren Female Executives Mission, since publishing the "Action Plan on Women's Active Participation in the Workforce”, Keidanren has been offering various programmes in training and networking, such as management development course for young women, increasing women in science, technology, engineer and mathematics (STEM), and mentorship programmes for inspiring women’s leadership.

“The environment faced by Japanese corporations and society has been dramatically changing in the past few years, especially regarding women's empowerment. Keidanren, as a representative of Japan's business community, will continue our strategy to support the success of women in the workplace, with a view to realize the genuine "diversity" so that everyone in Japan can actively participate regardless of gender, nationality and age, leading up to 2020”, said Haruno Yoshida, Vice Chair of the Board of Councillors at Keidanren. The year 2020 is a significant milestone for Japan, since the Olympic and Paralympic games will be held in Tokyo and. Japan's female executives will take part in public diplomacy to promote economic partnership with all countries around the world.

Leveraging the strategic emphasis from the Japanese Government and Keidanren on women’s empowerment, UN Women will pursue a collaboration with Keidanren on common priority areas, including the women’s empowerment principles and the HeforShe campaign.