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Economy

Diversity gaining ground at Japan Inc.'s top levels

TOKYO -- The Japanese government's efforts to promote more-diverse corporate management seem to be paying off, a Nikkei Inc. survey shows, with female executives up 22.4% on the year to 235.

The 2016 survey, released Sunday, covered 462 public and private companies with at least 1,000 employees groupwide. Of these, 388 had comparable data on female officers for this year and last year.

Trading house Mitsui & Co. appointed a woman as an executive officer for the first time in April. Food producer Kagome promoted the head of its diversity promotion program, making her the company's first female executive officer.

Nichii Gakkan reported 13 women among its executive officers, 11 more than at the end of fiscal 2015. Women make up a large portion of the nursing care provider's staff, including more than 70% of management personnel. Snack maker Calbee and beverage giant Suntory Holdings each added one female executive officer, bringing their respective totals to six and three.

Companies are also promoting more foreigners as they expand their global presence. The businesses surveyed have 14,511 full-fledged non-Japanese employees, up 9.2% from the end of fiscal 2015. The proportion of companies with foreign executive officers climbed 3 percentage points to 21.6%.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushing for reform of workplace practices such as excessive hours, the question of how to advance the careers of women, who have traditionally handled child and elder care, has taken on greater importance. The government enacted a law in April to tackle the issue, aiming to have women make up 30% of company management in 2020.

But it still has a long way to go. The figure now stands at just 6.3%, the survey found.

(Nikkei)

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