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Cablegate: Ambassador Verveer Calls for Cooperation On

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O 170629Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 002889

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/GWI WENCHI YU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KTIP KWMN JA
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR VERVEER CALLS FOR COOPERATION ON
WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT ISSUES

TOKYO 00002889 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's
Issues Melanne Verveer proposed cooperation between Japan and
the United States to improve the situation of women in a
meeting in Tokyo with Minister of State for Consumer Affairs,
Food Safety, Social Affairs and Gender Equality, Mizuho
Fukushima. Possible areas might include reducing
gender-based pay inequality, improving access to affordable
child-care for working women, supporting and empowering
female entrepreneurs, and increasing the number of women in
positions of political and governmental leadership. End
Summary.

2. (U) S/GWI Ambassador Verveer met December 10 with Minister
of State for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety, Social
Affairs and Gender Equality Mizuho Fukushima. Fukushima, who
is also the head of the Social Democratic Party, agreed with
Ambassador Verveer,s assessment that with an increase in
women's economic participation, GDP goes up. Both agreed
that to facilitate greater economic participation by women
there is a need to create more child care facilities. In
Japan, there is an M-shaped graph that depicts the percentage
of employed women by age, Fukushima noted. When women have
children they drop out of the labor market. She said
offering both paternity and maternity leave was one way of
addressing this problem. According to Minister Fukushima,
"Up to now Japan has not invested much in its children. The
new administration aims to make this a society that values
and invests in it children." Minister Fukushima said Japan
was also discussing with South Korea the issue of how to
raise birth rates while increasing women's participation in
the economic sphere. She added that one notable trend in
South Korea was the increasing number of marriages to
non-Korean women.
3. (U) Minister Fukushima encouraged the United States to
find a way to ratify CEDAW (The Convention for the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).
Ambassador Verveer acknowledged that the United States was
now among a small and dwindling number of countries that had
not ratified. While the Obama administration vows to make
CEDAW ratification one of its priorities, Ambassador Verveer
pointed out the political difficulties of needing to obtain a
Senate "super-majority" to ratify.

4. (U) Minister Fukushima said she had learned much from the
United States and the Children's Defense Fund when she
visited as an IVLP program invitee in the 1990's. She added
that many of Japan's efforts in terms of protection orders
and women's shelters were modeled on programs she observed at
that time.

5. (U) Ambassador Verveer welcomed some of Japan's efforts in
the Anti-Trafficking in Person (TIP) area, stating she had
noticed an improvement in terms of signs and posters. She
pointed out that TIP is a worldwide problem and Japan and the
United States should look for ways to cooperate in combating
TIP. In the United States, added the Ambassador, TIP is
dealt with by a wide range of agencies across the government.
Keiko Takegawa, Deputy Director General for Gender Equality,
pointed out that the situation was similar in Japan with the
addition that there was an Inter-Ministerial Liaison
Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons that served to
coordinate the anti-TIP actions of the various agencies.
Minister Fukushima stated that as a lawyer in the private

TOKYO 00002889 002.2 OF 002


sector she had worked to defend Asian women who were being
protected by the Asian Women's Shelter. The Minister stated
that Japan was also aware of some labor trafficking and that
there were cases in which mostly Chinese workers who had
entered the country under the trainee visa program had ended
up in bad work situations. The government, she said, is
looking into this situation.

6. (U) Asked what the Government of Japan was doing to
increase the number of women leaders in government, Minister
Fukushima said Japan had a goal of 30% of government
employees being women by 2020. At present her ministry was
planning a meeting of all 27 Japanese women mayors and 3
women governors, to further draw up plans. She agreed though
that more needs to be done, particularly in increasing the
number of women at the managerial level. Japanese women she
pointed out are "extremely well-educated." Asked for ideas
of areas the United States and Japan could cooperate on in
empowering women, Minister Fukushima said, "We need to find
ways of improving the work-life balance." She added that
perhaps some kind of an affirmative action policy would be
necessary. The minister also said Japan needed to further
improve its protective shelter system for women as well as
change the legal system so that protective orders are more
effective.

7. (U) Ambassador Verveer closed by offering cooperation in
terms of exchanges and conferences. She pointed out that
Japan was the host of APEC in 2010 to be followed by the
United States in 2011. She suggested that perhaps Japan and
the United States could cooperate in women's economic
development programs, and/or setting up a women's
entrepreneurship summit for women from the APEC countries.

8. (U) This cable was cleared by S/GWI.
ROOS

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