Japan’s government has made headlines this week after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe picked five women to join his cabinet, matching the past record set in 2001.
The move sends Abe’s strongest message yet about wanting to change mindsets surrounding gender, AFP reported. The five female cabinet members make up more than a quarter of the 18-strong cabinet.
“Creating a society where women can shine is a big challenge that the Abe cabinet is taking on,” he said at a press conference.
“Whoever suggests it should be the first to do it. I believe the (female) ministers are highly capable people who can carry out their jobs.”
He added he wants 30% of senior business and political positions to be filled by women by 2020.
The five women who were appointed to cabinet are Midori Matsushima as justice minister, Yuko Obuchi as minister for economy, trade and industry, Sanae Takaichi as minister of internal affairs and communications, Eriko Yamatani as minister in charge of Japanese abducted by North Korea, and Haruko Arimura as minister in charge of promoting women.
Earlier this month, a report by Teikoku Databank found the average percentage of female executive members in a company stands at only 8.4%.
It also found 76.6% of 11,017 companies polled have fewer than 10% of women among their executive members.
Read more: Where are Japan’s female leaders?