Research Proposal | SWOT Analysis

STRENGTHS

Political

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Law of 1986 promoted fair and just treatment of female employees

  • The central government is offering loans with a low interest rate of 1.5% to female entrepreneurs through the Life Finance Corporation.

  • The government also has an ambitious goal to create 400,00 new daycare spaces by 2018.

  • Recent launch of a $200 billion yen fund to support young female entrepreneurs, and the Kakehashi Project that seeks to increase innovation in Japan by bringing youth to Silicon Valley for a few weeks at a time. 

Socioeconomic

  • Women are highly educated with advanced degrees.

  • Even though the majority of women leave the workforce after marrying and having children, they seek independence and desire to give back to the community.

WEAKNESSES

Political

  • Only in the past five years, has Shinzo Abe begun implementing policies to help promote women in the workforce. Japan still has a long way to go, but one way it can make a dramatic difference is through the establishment of more childcare centers in the private and public sector with financial incentives for companies.

Socioeconomic

  • Japan is a male-dominated society with demanding, corporate work schedules of around 60 hours per week. On top of the regular working hours, employees are highly encouraged to drink with bosses and colleagues after work to further their careers.

  • Women are expected to leave the workforce once they get married, and especially once they have children.

    • Female participation in the labor force is 63%, far lower than other high-income countries.

    • When women have their first child, 70% of them stop working for a decade or more, compared with just 30% in America. Many of those 70% are gone for good.

    • One of the reasons could be deeply-rooted, negative attitudes towards working mothers.

  • When women re-enter the workforce, they can only get low-paying jobs.

  • The “head of household,” normally a man, is allowed to claim a tax deduction of ¥380,000 ($3,700) as long as his spouse’s income does not exceed ¥1.03 million.

OPPORTUNITIES

Political

  • “Abenomics” promotes fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, and structural reforms such as raising the proportion of mothers who return to work after the birth of their first child to 55 percent by 2020. As such, the environment for female entrepreneurs is ripe to blossom. 

  • By 2020, Mr. Abe would like women to occupy 30% of all leadership positions, including members of parliament, heads of local government and corporate executives.

  • The government can implement policies to remove restrictive personal financing and tax laws, encourage companies to hire women after they have given birth with a monetary incentive, and install quotas to increase the number of women in management positions with an enforcement mechanism.

  • One practical step Abe has taken is to shorten waiting lists for childcare by allowing private companies to develop centers. In the past, it was a state-run initiative similar to public schools.

Socioeconomic

  • Raising female labor participation to the level of men’s could add 8 million people to Japan’s shrinking workforce.

  • Japanese women desire flexibility, autonomy, a desire to be one’s own boss, an increase in income, a need for self-achievement, and independence, so they may embark on a path of entrepreneurship.

  • Technological advancements make it easier to start and run an online business.

  • Over 90% of buyers of consumer goods are Japanese women, and they tend to hold the family purse strings.

THREATS

Political

  • In the Gender Empowerment Index, Japan ranks 43 / 80 countries.

  • There is massive public sector debt, a strong yen and deflation. At the same time, Japan is still experiencing the ramifications of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

  • A high potential for “positive discrimination,” whereby public authorities create policies and programs with a clear idea in mind of what is suitable or not for female entrepreneurs.

Socioeconomic

  • The fertility rate in 2012 was 1.41, meaning that Japan’s working population will fall by 40% by 2050.

  • Japan has an exponentially aging population coupled with the world’s lowest birth rate.

  • Promotion tends to be based on tenure and overtime, rather than on productivity and performance.

  • Women who complete graduate degrees abroad return to Japan frustrated by limited employment opportunities.

  • A high risk of failure and losing one’s personal savings stops many women from even attempting to start their own business, coupled with a lack of privately-managed specialized programs for startups and young companies.

  • Over 90% of women will forgo business opportunities, if they think it will create opposition or disharmony within the family.