COVID-19 Pandemic: Japanese Women Hit Hardest amid Economic Downfall
japanese women

COVID-19 Pandemic: Japanese Women Hit Hardest amid Economic Downfall 

When the entire world is struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts, Japan’s story is quite an eye-catching one. Japanese women are suffering a bigger share of the pain, as the economy falls into recession under the weight of global pandemic.

The virus-induced quarantines and business closures have made situations tough for the world’s third-largest economy. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long made creating jobs for women central to his economic policy, is now facing problems fulfilling it.

Under Abe’s campaign, often dubbed “Womenomics” that has been launched for more than six years, there was a 70 percent increment in female labour participation. But it also had a hidden disadvantage, i.e. many women lacked the job security of male workers, with more than half holding vulnerable part-time, contract or temporary jobs.  

Japanese women were often considered an untapped economic source in the country, but with the introduction of “womenomics” policy, the goal changed to helping women to get into the workforce. More than 2 million new women have since then been employed in the workforce. However, it is the lockdown measures amid the pandemic that have led Japan to the worst economic slump since World War II.

April recorded the biggest drop in the number of non-regular workers by 970,000 to 2.02 million, of which women accounted for 710,000 of the decline. A data suggests that only one in five male workers hold non-regular jobs in Japan, which indirectly puts women in the category of the most affected amid the global pandemic.

When calculated on a national level, Japan’s domestic demand knocked 0.7 percentage point off GDP growth, while external demand shed 0.2 point, stressing the labour market. It was in March, when the jobless rates rose to its highest, while the job availability slipped to a more than three-year low.

Post losing their jobs, Japanese women are now looking for side jobs such as working for packing products for a drug company, where they are getting half the pay. These women are hopeful for a stimulus payment from the government. But can the government really provide financial support to all these women, amid the virus crisis? Somewhere, an environment providing stable employment from the government is constantly missing.

The single mothers, who are below the poverty line are hit the hardest. They are now waiting for a speedier and substantial assistance from the government. It has been expected that an extra government budget will soon be passed to help these single mothers, providing them one-time subsidies. Meanwhile, less attention has been given to other Japanese women. Though the Japanese prime minister has ended a nationwide state of emergency, the COVID-19 crisis still persists. As long as the economy doesn’t recover, which will obviously take time, the subtle differences between the regular and non-regular women employees  will continue to exist.

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