Few women climb the ranks of Japanese business. Is change finally coming?

During Barack Obama’s presidential election in 2008, she was impressed by youth political activism, which is relatively rare in Japan. She decided to go home and work to improve conditions for women.

In 2011, at the age of 36, she became Japan’s youngest female mayor, elected to head her hometown, Otsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecture in western Japan. She then built dozens of nurseries around the city, providing more childcare options for women who had been forced to choose between working and staying at home with their families.

After completing her second term, Ms. Koshi returned to law. When hundreds of women signed up for a seminar to become corporate directors, she and Ms. Matsuzawa – who has worked in corporate and government law and sits on two boards of directors – decided to form their firm. . Ms. Koshi sits on the boards of two companies, including a telecommunications subsidiary of the SoftBank group.

Growing pressures to appoint female directors have created an opportunity for Ms. Koshi’s cabinet.

In addition to the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s new focus on governance, Goldman Sachs announced in 2020 a global policy of voting against any board of directors that did not include at least one female candidate, thereby joining other companies in the world. investment that have adopted similar policies.

While Goldman’s decision had little practical effect on the voting results, it pushed companies to consider the issue.

“Most businesses are receptive; they recognize this is a problem and they hope to resolve it within a year or two, ”said Chris Vilburn, head of Asia management in the asset management division of Goldman.

In June, he said, when most Japanese companies held their annual meetings, Goldman cast 20% fewer protest votes than in 2020.

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