Japan is making progress on getting women into the workforce but at a much slower pace than is needed to spur the economy as the country's hidebound culture keeps some of them at home, analysts say.
"The female labor force participation rate has risen," but compared with other G-7 countries Japan still ranks "exceptionally poorly", said Capital Economics' Japan economist Marcel Thieliant in a note. Lifting the proportion of college educated women in paid positions to levels similar to other G-7 countries could "boost output by as much as 6 percent."
Broadly, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to tackle gender inequality and increase female labor force participation, has met success. The unemployment rate for women has fallen from 4.3 percent in 2012, the year Abe was returned to power, to 3.4 percent in 2014, according to Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures.
The unemployment rate for women in the U.S. during the same period was 8 percent in 2012 and 6.1 percent in 2014, according to the OECD.
But progress may not be fast enough to boost the economy, which is struggling to recover from a technical recession sparked by a consumption tax hike last April.