Despite efforts by the Japanese government under current prime minister Shinzo Abe to get more women into the workforce full-time, there is still a long way to go for female workers. Numbers from the Statistics Bureau show that about half of the female workforce is not currently in full-time regular employment.
The number of women working in Japan has grown since the 1990s, but so has the share of non-regular employment (defined as part-time, temporary and contract work). While just over a third of women fell into that category in 1992, that number has grown to around 50 percent in recent years. Non-regular employment has also grown among males, but the share of part-time or temp workers is still low, according to the labor market analysis carried out in Japan every five years.
According to reporting by the Japan Times, women often spend the remainder of their time working in the home, taking care of family and doing household chores. The numbers show how different types of paid and unpaid work are still split up along gender lines in Japan. Traditional thinking might play a role in these decisions, but so does the Japanese tax code, which allows one partner to claim a tax-free income of 1.5 million Yen (US$13,000) per year, encouraging many women to not exceed that amount. In 2017, 31.7 percent of women in non-regular employment said they had cut or were cutting hours because of the law, as opposed to 14.2 percent of men.