55-year-old Tokiko Shimizu, has been appointed as an executive director of Japan’s Central Bank, making her the first woman to fill one of the six executive posts, since the Bank’s inception in October 1882.
Shimizu was appointed as part of a sweeping reshuffle at the Bank of Japan, becoming one of a team of six executives responsible for running the central Bank’s daily operations.
She joined the Bank of Japan in 1987, taking up roles in the financial markets division and foreign exchange operations, and was general manager for Europe and chief representative in London between 2016 and 2018.
Women make up 47% of the Central Bank’s workforce but only 13% of senior managerial posts and just 20% of expert positions dealing with legal affairs, payment systems and banknotes, according to the Bank’s data.
Women have been represented on its policy board — the highest decision-making body responsible for setting monetary policy —since it was established in 1998. But only one of the board’s nine members is a woman, and the Bank has never had a woman governor, unlike the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank.
Over the past decade, demographic challenges and the growing number of women in higher education has slowly begun to change Japan’s male-dominated management structures.
But while women account for 51% of the Japanese population, according to 2018 World Bank data, the country is ranked 121 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest global gender gap index.
The country also ranks at the bottom among the G7 countries for gender equality, according to the WEF, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to empower working women through a policy called “womenomics.”