Japan set a target for companies listed on the top-tier Prime Market of the Tokyo bourse to achieve the ratio of female board members surpassing 30 percent by 2030, a draft policy blueprint on women's empowerment showed Monday.

The administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida would strive to foster a more inclusive and diverse corporate landscape by promoting the appointment of women to higher positions and advancing gender equality in the workplace, his aides said.

In Japan, 18.7 percent of firms listed on the Prime Market had no female board members as of the end of July 2022, the Cabinet Office said, adding the proportion of the companies with over 30 percent of executive roles filled by women was only 2.2 percent.

The latest proposals, announced Monday by the Council for Gender Equality of the office, are set to be reflected in the annual basic policies for economic and fiscal reform, scheduled to be approved by the government by the end of this month.

A meeting on gender equality is held at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on June 5, 2023. (Kyodo)

The draft pointed out that the appointment of women as executives at Japanese private firms has "significantly lagged behind internationally," stressing that increasing the number of female board members is an "urgent issue" for the country's economic growth.

Japan ranked 104th among 190 nations and territories in a report on economic opportunities for women, released by the World Bank in March, and placed 116th among 146 countries in the gender gap rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum in 2022.

As part of efforts to enhance women's empowerment at home, the government would request companies listed on the Prime Market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange to nominate at least one female board member by around 2025, according to the draft.

The government would also ask firms to craft action plans to realize the goal on the appointment of women as executives, while pledging to begin talks with the bourse to establish regulations later this year that would ensure the effectiveness of the objective.

Meanwhile, the public and private sectors would try to strengthen support for startup businesses to encourage the development of female entrepreneurs, with the government implementing necessary measures to improve women's income.

Benefits for childcare leave and part-time work would be expanded to address the phenomenon of women giving up full-time employment and taking up non-regular jobs after childbirth.

The government would also take steps to attain the goal of raising the ratio of single-mother households receiving child-rearing expenses to 40 percent by 2031, while bolstering the legal framework designed to prevent sexual abuse against children.

Since earlier this year, Kishida, who took office in October 2021, has voiced eagerness to boost spending on child care in an attempt to tackle Japan's rapidly declining birthrate and shrinking population, calling them the most pressing items on his agenda.

The number of babies born in Japan in 2022 fell for the seventh consecutive year, dropping below 800,000 for the first time since record-keeping began in 1899, official data showed.

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