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Economy

Japanese companies set targets for adding women managers

TOKYO -- In response to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's call to expand the ranks of women in managerial positions, major Japanese companies are setting specific targets.

     Auto giant Toyota plans to triple the number of women managers in its employ by 2020 from roughly 100 at present, then raise the figure to around 500 by 2030.

     The company will hire more females to fill about 40% of the nonengineering positions offered to new college graduates, up from 27% at present. For engineering jobs, it plans to raise the percentage from 6% now to 10%.

     To help balance work and child care responsibilities, the carmaker is considering enhancing its information technology systems to make it easier for employees to work from home. In addition, it will take into account potential marriage and childbirth into women workers' career development plans.

     Trading house Mitsui & Co. aims to double the number of women managers from 67 as of the end of April to about 130 by 2015, then raise their ranks to more than 200 by 2020. Mitsubishi Corp. seeks to raise its percentage from the current 7.1% to more than 10% in 2020. And Hitachi plans to have 1,000 women managers by fiscal 2020, up 150% from fiscal 2013 levels.

     Sumitomo Chemical is working to have women account for at least 10% of all section chiefs or higher positions by 2020, up from 3.7% now. Asahi Group Holdings aims to raise the percentage from 14.8% to 20% by 2021. The beverage giant will also introduce targets at individual group companies, including Asahi Breweries.

     To improve the understanding of male workers, Seven & i Holdings will hold training sessions for those who oversee women workers.

     As a pillar of its growth strategy, Abe's government has set an ambitious goal of having women account for 30% of corporate managers by 2020, and has requested that all listed companies appoint at least one female manager.

     Naoko Ishihara, chief researcher at Works Institute Recruit, commends these efforts to set numerical goals, noting that it gives management the opportunity to take a look at how they currently employ women.

     She added, however, that achieving the goal set by the government requires more fundamental changes in how people work in Japan, such as eliminating long work hours.

(Nikkei)

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