Resulting Factors of Gender Discrimination in Japan

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In “The Tokyo Medical University entrance exam scandal: lessons learned”, the problem of gender discrimination in Japan was brought up again when The Tokyo Medical University was found tampering with entrance exam scores, mainly to exclude female applicants. Attention was drawn since getting into a medical school is an expensive and competitive process. The author, Wheeler, further mentioned gender inequality at work as well as the problem of lacking transparency in entrance exam system, which kept the misconduct undiscovered for a long time. Actions to prevent similar problem and to help TMU regain trust were also provided.

The TMU scandal could be just the tip of the iceberg. In order to have a deeper understand of the resulting factors of gender discrimination in Japan, this article will exam the problem from similar historical case, present situation reflected in and beyond the original text and will conclude that females’ concede to discrimination environment and the failure of the government played an important role in the formation of current dilemma. Possible solutions to improve the problem will also be provided.

Gender discrimination is seen in Japan’s history. The idea that for women household duties comes before work outside is deep-rooted. After World War two, companies in Japan only hired “older, married, women” for part-time jobs. (Budd, 2005) As a result, female get married early and raise their children in order to get a chance to enter the workforce. The situation didn’t improve much as time goes by. The scandal of TMU and probably other schools excluding female applicants basing on the untested assumption of their early leaves is a living example. (Wheeler, 2018) From these two evidence, the continued existence of gender discrimination was seen. And it takes a lot for much an environment to form.

Females’ concede to discrimination environment may played a part in the process. The author was surprised when read that female interviewee seem to “be well aware of the situation” that they are not being treated equally as their male colleagues. However, they just “resigned” and accepted the reality as what it is. (Wheeler, 2018) Just like what happened in history in which case they married early to fit the marital status requirement to get a job, they adapted to the situation and lowered their expectations. Only when the discrimination turned into brazen action of score manipulation were they forced to stand up to fight for their equal rights. This phenomenon shows females’ concede to discrimination environment which is understandable since it take a lot of courage to be the one to stand up. However, if female concede too much ground to discrimination, the situation will only get worse.

Besides, the author also consider Japan government’s failure to address the problem effectively as a resulting factor of the discrimination environment. This kind of failure manifests in Japan’s slip in the WEF global ranking of the gender gap as well as the insufficiency in gender-equality laws. Beneath the seemingly positive outcome of Abe’s economic reform of bringing more women into workforce, Japan dropped three places in the WEF global ranking of the gender gap to 114th out of 144 countries. (Larmer, 2018) It didn’t come as a surprise because as Katada points out “Womenomics was never aimed at women’s well-being”. (Katada, 2018) The author agrees with his opinion since the policy only sees the potential economic growth women would bring. And how can a policy which view female as untapped human resource improves gender equality and goes far than give female more part-time jobs. Which means, to improve gender equality, Japan needs to do more than that. According to NGOs in Japan, lags behind Europe and America, the insufficiency in gender-equality laws in Japan is still a problem. (Watson, 2018) Only existing two laws on gender-equality, “one lacks of penalty system and the other is not specific enough for application.” (Ishii-Kuntz, 2008) In conclusion, the author analyzes the gender discrimination problem in Japan though similar historical case, present condition reflected in and outside the original text and argues that females’ concede to discrimination environment and failure of the government played an important role in the formation of the discrimination environment.

And based on that, few possible solutions to improve gender equality in Japan will be provided. First of all, it is of great importance to raise public awareness on gender equality problem. It can be achieved by providing corrections to gender based bias in education system meanwhile encouraging the fightback on gender discrimination by rewarding those who report on such actions. More efforts is needed from the government. The gender discrimination problem is an issue of human rights and can’t be seen as an economic or political problem. Reinforcements in laws is required, which means it should be executable and punitive to achieve effectiveness and decrease the act of discrimination. Combined with the intensity of daycare shortage in Japan, reform in the point system is needed in order to free female from household duties and have a possibility for career development. (Terzuolo, 2018)

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Resulting Factors of Gender Discrimination in Japan. (2021, May 20). Retrieved from

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