Increasing female empowerment to me, and to the economic teams who have worked on this topic, is just a no-brainer.
It is good for growth.
It is good for resilience of the economy.
It is good to reduce income inequality.
And it is good for the diversification of the economy.
Now, Japan is a very thriving economy, very innovative, but it can clearly benefit from more female empowerment and more female leadership.
When we look at the 2017 numbers, we see that women only had 13% of managerial positions, and less than 4% of board membership in listed companies.
In addition to that, women on average earn less than 3/4 of men, and this is the highest gender gap amongst G7 countries.
In addition to that, our research suggests that Japan's real GDP will actually decline by no less than 25% *1 in 40 years due to pure demographics -- aging and shrinking population-- if current policies remain status quo.
So there is a great incentive in empowering women and letting them access the workplace, because if Japan were to implement various reforms, particularly to increase the workforce at large, including the space for women, it could reverse the negative demographic effects and increase real GDP by as much as 15% in 40 years.
But how can that be done?
Well, there are a few policy barriers that can be taken down.
Certainly one that applies for women, and parents in general actually, is the effort to increase affordable child care and nursing facilities. Not just to spend money on it, which under Prime Minister Abe's leadership has actually happened, but also remove all the non-budget barriers.
So that's one.
Second, remove disincentives in the tax, in the social security systems, that discourage women and create the gender wage gap that I talked about earlier.
Third, implement corporate governance reforms to tackle excessive overtime. Now, this has begun, I know, and Prime Minister Abe is very much taking initiatives in that respect.
But all those policies will do nothing if the empowerment does not become part of the culture, and the attitudes that people have towards women participating in the workforce, in the economy, and bringing their incredible talent to collective benefits.
So social and cultural barriers have to change.
Men must join forces with women to fight for gender equality, to share their insight, both joys and struggles, and inspire each other to reach their full potential.
You know, I'll give you a final example of where things can change, not on the margin because I went through that myself.
In all companies, people who organize meeting could stop calling meetings after 6:00 PM, in order to encourage parents to actually look after their children and spend time at home.
Because a good balance between life and work for both mothers and fathers, for all parents, is actually good for productivity.
So that's a world where I think most young people want to live.
This is the world where they want, also, their children to grow up.
*1 The 25% decline is against the scenario assuming that the 2012-2017 average growth rate continues in the future, not against the current real GDP. The 15% increase is against the assumption that real GDP would be reduced by 25% in 40 years, not against the current real GDP.