Japan’s rank down in intl sex gap report

Japan’s ranking in a World Economic Forum report on the equality of the sexes was recently revised down 26 places to 101st among 134 nations, reflecting objections raised by a Japanese women’s organization and others about the initial assessment made in October.

The reassessment by the Geneva-based forum in its annual Gender Gap Report left Japan at the lowest level among developed countries, with the gap especially pronounced in economic and political fields.

Japan had been ranked 80th among 115 countries in 2006, 91st among 128 nations in 2007 and 98th among 130 countries in 2008.

The World Economic Forum has ranked different countries in its Global Gender Gap Index since 2006.

Japan’s overall ranking in the index published at the end of October shot up to 75th.

The change was especially startling in the professional and technical workers section of the economic participation and opportunity category, where Japan’s ratio of women was ranked first, up from 69th the previous year. In the section concerning legislators, senior officials and managers, the ranking catapulted from 101st in 2008 to 6th.

However, the rankings raised some eyebrows in Japan. The Working Women’s Network, a civic group, suggested the rankings did not reflect reality and sent a written inquiry to the WEF, quoting statistics compiled by the United Nations and the Japanese government.

Believing the WEF’s citation data must have been wrong, Kanazawa University Associate Prof.

Yayoi Sugihashi, an expert on economic statistics, recalculated the figures using the database of the International Labor Organization and informed the WEF of mistakes in the index.

On March 24, Sugihashi received a reply from the WEF that said the index had been revised as Sugihashi had indicated and Japan’s ranking corrected down to 101st on its Web site.

“I think the WEF had little choice but to make the correction,” Sugihashi said. “The ranking is very influential–it’s sometimes cited in government white papers.”