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Working women in Japan

Title
Working women in Japan
Authors
송명성
Issue Date
2003
Department/Major
국제대학원 국제학과
Publisher
이화여자대학교 국제대학원
Degree
Master
Advisors
.
Abstract
This thesis is intended to examine working women in Japan, in particular, their participation, behavior and pattern in the labor market in the Japanese economy for the past twenty years. In addition to an analysis on the current situation of Japanese women in the workplace, an attempt is made to test to see which of the existing theories of arguments by various scholars is better to explain the fundamental obstacles or problems that Japanese women have been facing. Those past studies categorized into four features, such as traditional gender role division, Japanese employment system, socialization of men and women, and legal aspects were examined in detail by use of the relevant data and surveys. Some of the characteristics of working women in Japan have been pointed out, which are "M-curve" shape shown in female employment participation in spite of steady increase in number of female employees, and increasing number of women part-time workers. Particularly, there seems to be an existence of "proper" age for marriage and child bearing as one of the Japanese social norms, which allows this "M-Curve" pattern (taking a job after graduation from high school or college, quitting to get married and have children, and return to work when the children have reached school age) to form for the Japanese working women. This indicates the Japanese women's tendency to put work aside when their children are small. Moreover, there is a possibility to believe that Japanese women withdraw voluntarily from work when they get married because of their deep-rooted traditional social perceptions or preference. Once married, Japanese women find it difficult to balance work with family, including childbirth, raising of children, household duties, and nursing the elderly parents. Conclusively, the obstacles are defined not only to be the emphasis on the traditional gender stereotype ingrained deeply in Japanese culture, but also the burden of childcare, which is sorely put on women based on these gender role division that limits Japanese women from more active role in the society. In particular, in the process of socialization, Japanese women have been in a difficult position to have to reconcile the household work and childcare with employment and this is the main hindrance to women's active role in the Japanese labor market. The review of labor market data supports that the traditional social and cultural perception on the gender role division is the most important factor to explain the women's participation in the labor force in Japan. Even the lack of social infrastructure for women's participation in the labor force such as day care facilities, originates from this traditional perception on the role of women. Without change of the underlying stereotyped perception of Japanese people on women's role, and government strongly enforced social infrastructure and safety net such as low-priced family support systems to take care of young children, it will be hard to expect Japanese women's active and full participation in the economy in the future. In this sense, Japanese government should strive to put efforts into changing perceptions on gender role division and provide sufficient social infrastructure for working women.;본 논문은 동아시아에서 유일한 선진국인 일본 여성의 노동시장 참여현황에 대한 과거 사회·문화적, 정치적, 경제적, 법률적 측면의 연구를 기반으로 지난 20여년간 일본여성의 노동시장 참여도, 참여행태 및 특징 등을 비교정태적으로 고찰해보고 정책적 시사점을 도출하고자 한다. 특히 일본 여성의 노동시장 참여를 저해하는 근본적인 원인이 무엇인지를 관련 자료를 통해 규명하고 사회화과정, 노동시장의 구조, 남녀 역할에 대한 전통적 인식 차이, 법률적 문제 등에 대한 기존의 연구중 어떤 이론이 가장 적합한지 설명해 보고자 시도하였다. 본 논문은 그 동안 일본 여성들의 경제활동 참가가 양적으로 성장하였음에도 불구하고 노동시장 참여형태는 M자형 구조를 띠고 있고 남성근로자들과의 임금격차도 여전하며 비정규직 근로자의 비중이 과다한 특징을 보이고 있음을 지적하였다. 또한 남녀고용 평등을 위한 법률적 뒷받침이 부족하고 고학력 여성의 노동시장 진출도 제약되고 있음을 기술하였다. 이러한 분석을 기초로 일본 여성의 경제활동 참여를 제약하는 주요 요인은 남성과 여성의 역할 구분에 대한 일본 사회의 뿌리박힌 인식구조이며 그로 인한 가사와 노동의 공존이 어렵기 때문이라고 해석하였다. 그 결과 일본 여성의 노동시장 참여행태는 과거와 크게 달라진 것이 없는 것으로 판단됨을 기술하였다. 경제의 세계화, 인구의 고령화, 성장 둔화 등 급변하는 대내외 여건 속에서 일본 여성의 경제활동 참가 확대와 동시에 노동시장 내에서의 역할 제고가 요구되고 있다. 그러므로 이를 위해 남녀 역할 구분에 대한 뿌리깊은 사회인식 구조의 변화를 시정하고 여성의 육아 및 가사노동 부담을 덜어주기 위해 사회적 기반을 확충하고 노동시장의 재진입을 촉진하는 정부의 적극적인 노력이 필요함을 주장하였다. 또한 향후 과제로 여성의 경제활동 참여 제고를 위한 바람직한 정책대안을 마련하는 데 국가간 비교연구나 공동연구도 필요함을 제시하였다.
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