Japanese businesses have failed to take up the government’s offer of cash incentive to promote women into management roles, after it was revealed that the 120 million Yen (£660,000) subsidy has remained untouched.
In April 2014 the fund was earmarked to enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to apply for a 300,000 Yen (£1,600) payment per company and larger companies to be eligible for 150,000 Yen each. The plan was to distribute the money to about 400 companies.
Speaking to The Japan Times Megumi Kondo, a spokeswoman for the health ministry, the agency which was due to administer the payouts, said the funds were not applied for, because eligibility requirements were too restrictive.
Under the program companies are required to set numerical targets and to achieve the goals within six months. Businesses are also required to offer a minimum of 30 hours of training about equality opportunity and rights.
She told the newspaper it is “not a good program.” According to Kondo the agency have been instructed by the government to relaunch the initiative to enable larger payouts and with a more relax criteria. Some companies could be in line for double the previous amount on offer, which stretched to up to 300,000 Yen.
The news comes as blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s continued campaign to encourage more women into the workforce.
Abe was quoted last year as saying he aimed to create “a society in which women shine” as part of his drive for more women in the workforce referred to as “womenomics”.
Last December Abe pledged to support a drive for more women to enter the workforce and to boost the number of women in leadership positions, in both the public and private sector, to 30% by 2020.
A report by Teikoku Databank states that women in Japan accounted for just over 6% management positions, within the 11,000 companies surveyed. This figure stands at 34% in the UK and 44% in the US.
Last week Abe also announced increase help for families in a revised economic plan. He took office in December 2012 and has seen increased the amount of working women in Japan by an estimated one million.
Earlier this week Japan’s chief cabinet secretary was criticised for calling upon women to reproduce for the wellbeing of the country.