12 years ago with Sheryl Sandberg, long before she joined Facebook Inc. and wrote her book on female empowerment. We were listening to her boss at the time, U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, speak about the need for structural reforms to the Japanese economy, in a giant auditorium devoid of women. It was one of several male-dominated events that day. The author of "Lean In" leaned over and asked me half-seriously: "There ARE women in this country, right?" – Bloomberg
Dominant Social Theme: Without equal opportunity, Japan's progress will never amount to much.
Free-Market Analysis: We've commented on Abenomics elsewhere in this issue but it is important to note how the mainstream media is conflating Japan's progress with women's rights (see above). The issue of women's rights is a long-term dominant social theme that has been used to divide and confuse Western societies for decades.
Modernity holds – and rightly so – that human beings ought to have equal rights and opportunities. Women are no longer considered the "weaker sex," nor should they be. But unfortunately, in the modern era this is not all that is taking place.
In society's zeal to improve the lot of those suffering from sexism, many other issues are ignored, perhaps on purpose. We've written in the past that women's liberation as a "movement" was calculated to obscure various monetary manipulations put in place, and now we think we see it happening again in Japan.
This Bloomberg article goes on to make the point that it is Japan's backwardness toward women that is partially responsible for its 20-year-long slump. We think this is an absurd analysis but it is one nonetheless that Bloomberg is willing to introduce. Here is more:
A dozen years on, Japan's leaders appear to have realized that the two problems are intertwined: The lack of women in the workforce poses one of the biggest structural impediments to faster growth. Japan's institutionalized sexism deepens deflation, hurts competitiveness and exacerbates the demographic trends that make Japan's debt load so dangerous.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claims that tapping the other half of Japan's 126 million people is a key element of his revival plan, dubbed "Abenomics." Yet his proposals are timid and may even make it harder for Japanese women to enter the working world. As with other vital structural changes required to restore Japan to health, Abe needs to act more boldly.
The World Economic Forum ranks Japan a dismal 101st in gender equality out 135 countries — behind Azerbaijan, Indonesia and China. Not a single Nikkei 225 company is run by a woman. Female participation in politics is negligible, and the male-female wage gap is double the average in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
One number explains why Japan must pull women into the job market and help them achieve leadership roles: 15 percent. That's how much of a boost that gross domestic product would receive if female employment matched men's (about 80 percent), says Kathy Matsui, the chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. "Japan is lagging because it's running a marathon with one leg," says Matsui, who has been churning out "Womenomics" reports regularly since 1999.
Can this be true? Or are articles like these written for people with terminal memory loss or perhaps for children? Anyone alive in the 1980s surely remembers the torrent of media proclaiming the supremacy of the Japanese communitarian democracy.
Then it was said that the commonality of the culture and the determination of the hard-working Japanese people would inevitably set them ahead of the West. More recently, the same sorts of explanations were pro-offered for the lagging Chinese Miracle.
But now we are to believe that Japan's cultural disdain for women's natural talents has led to a 20-year-long economic collapse. Surely such explanations cannot be entirely serious.
And yet, sadly, they probably are. This is Money Power's way. Women's liberation (as a movement rather than a salutary goal) was likely introduced into the West – and indeed, it resembles some sort of clever Intel operation – in order to hide the deleterious effects of monetary stimulation.
As central banks debased the currency, those fomenting these policies worked hard to ensure that women would have an equal role in the workplace not for purposes of equality but merely to disguise the ever-eroding income potential of average middle-class families.
The Japanese economic malaise is caused by a horribly rigid regulatory structure, an asinine monetary policy and a hierarchical business and political culture that makes change almost impossible. To blame Japan's decline on its aggregate attitude toward women seems highly delusional in our humble opinion.
In the 1980s, for reasons we have explained elsewhere many times, Japan's central bank went on a tremendous money-printing spree from which the economy has never recovered. Now it would seem, the powers-that-be are readying yet another dominant or subdominant social theme blaming chauvinism for Japan's serial monetary disasters.
This is always the way it seems. These memes are rolled out to protect the main culprits – always the central bank and its policies. As Japan's monetary stimulation proceeds, no doubt the currency will eventually be halved and women will have to go to work just as they have done (when they can find jobs) in the West.
By blaming chauvinism for the current Japanese economic debacle, the true culprit is obscured and a good deal of divisiveness can be introduced into a sometimes problematic but cohesive culture. And isn't that the REAL point?