September 16, 2019
 In 2022-Income Inequality

Country: Japan
Delegate Name: Ema Bekic

UN Development Program
Income Inequality
Ema Bekic, Forest Hills Northern High School

Income inequality is a rising global problem that highlights the gap between the rich and the poor. Per The World Inequality Report, the wealthiest 10% of the global population takes in 52% of global income, while the poorest half only takes in 8.5%. Factors contributing to income inequality can be global, such as climate, technology, urbanization, global crisis, or country-specific, such as economic development and domestic policies. In the last 25 years, income inequality between countries has improved, yet income inequality within countries has become worse. In the World Inequality Database, Japan ranks relatively high as 119 out of 169 countries. According to the United Nations data, the average income of the wealthiest 10% to the poorest 10% is 4.5x, the lowest ratio of all the countries in the database.

Income inequality in Japan has been increasing since the 1980s, although the Japanese government has reduced the rate of increase by performing income redistribution through social security and taxation. The main factors causing income inequalities in Japan are education, two-tier policy, and gender inequality, with the last being the major contributor. Although the gender pay gap has decreased over the last two decades, Japan has the highest pay differential between males and females among developed countries. The number of female undergraduates reached a historical high in 2019, suggesting that the gender pay gap depends more on the type of occupation, employment, and marital status. Traditional gender roles impact a woman’s choice to select less competitive and less paid but flexible jobs that are compatible with family responsibilities. Gender gap pay is disproportionally higher for married women, with 10-20% of women in different age groups being full-time homemakers.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 10 (SDG10): Reduced Inequalities from 2015, emphasizes inclusion independent of age, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion. To support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Japan identified 8 priority issues in the “SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles,” with gender inequality designated as the leading principle. Japan implemented a set of economic policies called Abenomics. Abenomics has 3 arrows. The third focuses on women’s economic empowerment and includes a set of women’s employment policies created to promote gender equality.

Japan believes that gender equality promotes economic growth and drives sustainable development in all spheres. Japan continues to implement policies to enhance workplace diversity and promote female employment. One of the best known is the parental leave policy for fathers, with the average earning 60% of their income during a year-long absence. Despite being allowed, fathers rarely take leave (17% in 2021), mainly due to the country’s work culture. Japan established a goal to have 30% of fathers taking leave by 2025. To encourage participation, Japan will start giving “a father’s bonus” to the family – an additional month of parental leave for every 6 months of time off used by the father. Generous paternal leave policy promotes woman’s employment and reduces gender income inequalities but also encourages families to have more children, which is crucial in countries with decreasing natality.

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