Then we consider the history of gender and employment in Japan, the Japanese Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL), the Sumitomo lawsuits, and recent amendments to the EEOL.
In conjunction with the ratification, Japan passed an Equal Employment Opportunity Law (EEOL) which became effective in 1986.2 As required by Article 5 of CEDAW, the legislative measure alms to modifying the social and cultural patterns that subsumed prejudice against women.
Indeed, the content of the EEOL would lead one to agree with Bergeson and Yamamoto (1986:875) that the law was simply intended as an "ornaments' to make Japan look "respectable in Western eyes." Symbolic as was the government's endorsement of CEDAW, the social consequences were no less than real.
The impact has been documented by various studies which correlated the passage of the EEOL with indicators of Japanese women's s rising career aspiration, including increasing i nvestment in higher education, postponing marriage, reducing fertility, or choosing to remain single altogether.
This strategy proved successful -- the Japanese Diet amended the EEOL on June 11, 1997.
CEDAW was instrumental in pressuring the Japanese government to adopt the EEOL. According to the Japanese government, the EEOL was enacted to amend domestic laws mainly because CEDAW had to be ratified (Shirafuji Brief 1996).
In 1997, the Japanese government revised the EEOL and prohibited discrimination in hiring, promotion and retirement by dropping the "endeavor" clause.
This allows us to see if the utilization of women has improved since the EEOL came into effect in 1986.
So after the enforcement of the EEOL the real increase in female managers was among the university graduates.
However, such a discriminatory treatment of female employees was outlawed by the EEOL in 1986.
In Kawashima's view, the principal beneficiaries of EEOL
have been four-year college graduates who routinely have been denied interviews with large companies because their managers preferred women from community colleges who cost less to hire, seemed more malleable and could be counted on to quit as soon as they married.
(47) In contrast to the external forces that impelled the 1986 passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, women's groups played a more important role in the 1997 revision of the EEOL
that legally required sexual harassment prevention at the workplace.