Date of Graduation

Winter 12-15-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)

College/School

College of Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

International Studies

First Advisor

John Zarobell

Abstract

This thesis examines Japan’s aging population crisis and gender inequalities in the workplace. This topic presents an interesting and challenging phenomenon for Japan, as Japan’s economy and technology have developed more rapidly than almost any other country, establishing Japan as one of the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Yet Japan still significantly lags behind other industrialized nations when it comes to women’s rights and opportunities for advancement in the workplace. This is in turn hampering efforts for Japan to address a population crisis, with an older population growth rate far outpacing the growth of demographic groups that would support the older population. This study examines the primary causes that hinder women’s ability to advance in Japan’s employment market, and the related factor of Japanese women attempting to balance maternity and career goals. Critical research questions include: How has Japan’s work environment affected women’s mobility and advancement opportunities in Japan’s labor market? Has the aging population crisis produced more awareness of gender equality and how to improve equality in the workplace? Has it also produced a backlash towards more women entering the workforce? Widely reported information shows that Japan is currently suffering from an aging population crisis, with younger population growth not approaching levels needed to support the increasing older generation. Through research on Japan’s workplace and maternity care policies, a societal legacy of gender discrimination that is not easily offset by new laws and policies, and a continued rigid workplace environment, this study seeks to demonstrate and explain that the lack of gender equity in the Japanese workplace is greatly contributing to, and not alleviating, the aging population crisis, creating a downward spiral for Japan’s population crisis.