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Japan’s quiet #MeToo moment is an economic indicator

13 0 7
09.07.2018

It’s the BBC documentary Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn’t want you to see. Ostensibly, “Japan’s Secret Shame” tells the story of journalist Shiori Ito’s rape allegations against a prominent male media personality. But it also hints at a bigger story: why Abenomics is stumbling.

Japan’s notoriously docile media is reluctant even to mention the name of Ito’s alleged attacker. Tokyo Broadcasting System’s Noriyuki Yamaguchi is known to have close ties with Abe. To many, the lack of charges against him smack of a political coverup. Local media largely looked the other way when BBC dropped its documentary on June 28.

The contrast with the #MeToo reckoning in the West couldn’t be starker. The same goes for the gender-related headwinds holding back Asia’s second-biggest economy.

Empowering women – making them “shine”, as Abe put it – was a key pillar of Tokyo’s five-plus-year-old reflation scheme. Abe claimed to be inspired by the “womenomics” research of Goldman Sachs strategist Kathy Matsui. By Matsui’s calculations, Japan’s gross domestic product would get a 15 per cent boost if female labour participation rates matched those of men, or about 80 per........

© South China Morning Post