TOKYO -- Japan expressed dismay Tuesday over trailing most of the world on gender equality, calling its 120th-place ranking among 156 countries "very disappointing" as the prime minister pushed to do better.
The self-criticism came as part of a task force review of progress toward the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga urged the panel to "step up efforts to achieve a society that leaves no one behind."
The review, to be submitted to the U.N. in July, analyzes factors hindering female participation in political and economic life. It said that Japan lacks a fully developed career path for women to rise to managerial positions or higher -- and that traditional thinking on gender roles persists in society.
The document also emphasized the pandemic's impact on women. Female workers, especially in contract positions, are decreasing roughly twice as fast as male counterparts, it said. The report mentioned rising domestic violence and the increase in suicides among women.
COVID-19 is deepening gender disparities, the World Economic Forum warned in its Global Gender Gap Report 2021. Its Gender Gap Index rankings put New Zealand in fourth place and the Philippines at No. 17 among Asia-Pacific countries. China and Myanmar came in at 107th place and 109th, still outperforming Japan.