Honors College Theses

Publication Date



International Studies (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Christopher M. Brown


In this study, I determine the extent to which Japan’s shrinking workforce population has been affected by gender roles. Many Asian countries are experiencing a prominent decline in birth rate and population, which has increased global interest in these issues. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese government officials have eagerly responded, pushing Japanese women into the labor force as a possible solution. However, this decision has unanticipated drawbacks, which require officials to address Japanese women’s concerns in and outside of the workplace. I argue that the Japanese government will have more success by addressing these needs, creating a more gender-equal society for Japanese women. I seek to find the relationships between gender roles and the prominent decrease in births and labor force participation rates. In order to test this hypothesis, I analyze the legislation in regards to gender equality passed by Japanese prime ministers, Yoshihiko Noda and Shinzo Abe, from 2011-2020. I measure the amount of legislation passed, the effectiveness of the legislation, and Japanese women’s reaction to the legislation. This paper utilizes current literature and former legislation to determine whether women would have a more equal role in society if their concerns (involving pregnancy and work environment) were addressed.

Thesis Summary

This thesis discusses the effect of Shinzo Abe's "Abenomics" policies on the shrinking Japanese workforce population. I also explore the effect that gender roles have had on the Japanese workforce population, believing that it contributed to the "Abenomics" policies' low success rate. I measured the effectiveness of the "gender-equal" legislation passed under former Prime Ministers Yoshihiko Noda and Shinzo Abe's terms. I also compared Japan's global status on gender equality, using the Global Gender Index and Economic Participation and Opportunity Index, to other countries' results from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. This study enforces the possibility that Japanese women would be more accepting of marrying and having children sooner if the societal gender roles were not as prominent.