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Japan’s Central Bank Gets Its First Women Executive Director in 138 Years

Tokiko Shimizu, a 55-year-old banker, has been appointed as part of a sweeping reshuffle at the Bank of Japan, becoming one of six executives in charge of managing the daily operations of the central bank.

In 1987 Shimuzu began to work for Bank of Japan. She took up positions in the Division of Financial Markets and Foreign Exchange Operations and between 2016 and 2018 was General Manager for Europe and Chief Representative in London.

The Bank of Japan was established in October 1882.

Women account for 47% of the workforce of the central bank, but only 13% of senior management positions and only 20% of specialist positions dealing with legal matters, payment systems, and banknotes, according to the bank’s own statistics.

Japan's Central Bank Gets Its First Women Executive Director

Since it was founded in 1998, women have been represented on its policy board — the highest decision-making body responsible for setting monetary policy. But only one of the nine board members is a woman, and unlike the Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank, the bank has never had a woman governor.

Demographic challenges and the rising number of women in higher education have been steadily transforming Japan’s male-dominated management structures over the past decade.

But while women make up 51% of the Japanese population, according to data from the World Bank in 2018, the country ranks 121 out of 153 countries in the latest gender gap index of the World Economic Forum.

According to the WEF, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ‘s pledge to empower working women through a strategy called “womenomics,” the country also ranks at the bottom of the G7 countries for gender equality.

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