The other day, I attended an international symposium titled “Women’s Power as the Source of Growth” hosted by the Government of Japan, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Nikkei Inc., and the Japan Institute of International Affairs.

The selection of the speakers is quite impressive:  Shizo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF; Akie Abe, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan; Cherie Blair, ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain; Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Japan; And other celebrity


The discussions and talks lasted four hours and a half but, to summarize, there is 1) an opportunity loss of economic growth due to excluding women from activities to generate economic values and possibility of gaining competitive advantage by an aggressive participation of women for value added activities and 2) evident cultural background in Japan to prevent women from participating in the activities:  women tend not to have eagerness or  even despair of doing so men tend to dislike accepting diversity.


At the end of panel discussions, a Japanese woman (she claimed that she is a board member of foreign capital investment bank in Japan) asked a question about how to proceed nurturing diversity, especially among Japanese men.  I remember one of the answers from panelists was that there was no concern for Japanese men to accept diversity as Prime Minister Abe and Keidanren committed to promote women.  On the other hand, there was a comment that, as this issue is strongly connected to Japanese culture; it would be difficult to change quickly.

I went home wondering how many Japanese men could accept the change.


At the noon on the following day, NHK broadcasted that Prime Minister Abe declared to open an office for UN Woman in Tokyo.  At the forum, we heard that series of meetings with a smaller and more powerful group will be held to discuss further about promoting women.  Therefore, I guess the news was one of the result of these discussions.  At the NHK evening news on the same day, a story about tax benefits for those Japanese companies who promote women board members was broadcasted.  Yet, I am skeptical about Japanese companies to do it.  As seen in the past, I would like to really question the level of change of Japanese companies dominated by men: Japan could not revive the economy for the past twenty years.  How could I suddenly believe that Japan would change soon?


I believe that the only persons that could possibly change Japanese men are the ones who are highly recognized socially and economically among public.  If those could use carrot and stick to clearly reward what they should do and let the men learn from the experience, then many would start to change.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any sticks this time.  Again, I don’t expect too much for the Japanese men to accept changes that would cause troubles for them with a small reward.

Well, at least the government realized the importance of women finally.  I hope it would not be “too little too late.”


Now, leaving all the current circumstances, what should I do upon this potential change?

Well, unfortunately, I don’t think I should change anything: simply keep doing what I have been doing, that is, “set a goal and keep going toward it without giving up studying, but for growth. Anne Sweeney, Co-chair of Disney Media Networks said at the panel discussion,

“Go and Get it!”


Apart from the forum that I attended, a female colleague of mine participated in TED activities the other day and she was quite inspired after that.  She learned from one of TED videos that women tend to give up career development as they believe marriage and having a family with children will prevent her pursue her own career.  But the video told her not to give up.  She realized that she should also have a goal and try to achieve it.  Giving up ones’ own career is nonsense.  When the time has come to think seriously about your own career, you’d better think about it.  But until then, don’t even worry about your family and children.  During the Ted session, after listening to the above mentioned, she could not help but shed tears thinking, “Gee, I never knew that I can have my OWN goal?  I thought I could never ever have any!”  Now, she told me that she has her own career goal.  Splendid!


Under any circumstances, the only thing we could do for our career is to continue striving for achieving our own goal without giving up.  I abandoned a dream of Japanese men to accept diversity long time ago but I never give up my own goal.


Now, to all women who are still hesitant to start,

“Let’s go and get it!”

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