"Gender equality advocates and women’s groups say that, for as long as anyone can remember, the Japanese political world has done much the same — ignored the interests of half the population, discounted their talents and squandered an economic goldmine," says the Times Online.

Gender inequality in the workplace has long been a problem for women in Japan, who are seriously discriminated against. But with elections coming up, women's rights group can only hope that more opportunities will be created for women.

Machiko Osawa, a professor of labour economics at the Japan Women’s University, said: “So much needs to change but women are at the heart of that. We need equal pay for equal work, pension reform, daycare reform and infinitely better support for working mothers. These are all things that would make fundamental differences to the economy but the underlying problem for Japan is still one of attitude.”

She condemned corporate Japan as "a serial waster of female talent."

Discrimination "is so bad there are no words to describe it,' says Toyomi Fujii, the secretary general of the Tokyo Women's Union. There is still a little hope, but for her, the election represents a chance to define the problem. "For Japan's sake, we need a breakthrough," she said.

[via TimesOnline]