On Tuesday, October 27th, the 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI*) co-sponsored the first-ever virtual Abe Global Fellows Forum, which focused on “Work-Life Balance in the COVID Age: Can the US and Japan Meet the Challenges?” The event was organized by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, and in partnership with New America. 21JPSI Director Adam Liff served as moderator, and facilitated a discussion with three leading experts from Japan and the United States on these very important topics. More than 90 people participated from around the world, and a recording can be viewed here.
Dr. Setsuya Fukuda, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, discussed the legacy of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “womenomics” policy and COVID-19’s impact on female employment. He highlighted the gains in female employment in Japan under “womenomics,” as well as the ways in which COVID-19 has challenged those gains. After Dr. Fukuda’s remarks, Dr. Machiko Osawa, a professor at Japan Women’s University, discussed gender inequality in the Japanese workplace. Both experts from Japan highlighted ways in which COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted female workers, including greater job instability and a higher likelihood of reduced work hours, income loss, and an increase in household work compared to their male colleagues when teleworking.
Brigid Schulte, a journalist and director of the Better Life Lab at New America, rounded out the panel with an American perspective on work-family justice in the era of COVID-19. In particular, she highlighted the ways in which the lives of working women have been fundamentally transformed over the past five decades, and discussed how the pandemic has further exposed the myriad ways in which women and minorities continue to face gender, racial, and pay inequalities for a variety of reasons; including a culture of overwork and an idealized view of motherhood.
After the panelists concluded their remarks, 21JPSI Director Adam Liff engaged the experts in a lively discussion, which was followed by a Q&A with members of the global audience.
21JPSI programming note: Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, all events will be held exclusively online for the foreseeable future. To learn more, please check out our calendar of upcoming public webinars and sign up for our event announcement mailing list!
*The 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI) was launched at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in 2018. Under the leadership of Founding Director and HLS faculty member Adam Liff, 21JPSI aims to invigorate and expand research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international (esp. U.S.-Japan) relations, and to educate, raise awareness, and debate policy responses to the various political, social, and foreign policy challenges that Japan faces in this extremely dynamic era of 21st-century change. Supported by a generous $900,000 grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, in its first five years 21JPSI has enabled a new tenure-track faculty search; new courses on contemporary Japan; a speaker series on Japanese Politics and Society; biennial conferences and webinars on U.S.-Japan relations; graduate research fellowships, and faculty travel grants. For more information, please see https://jpsi.indiana.edu/ or write to email@example.com