Women in Japan seek equal opportunity in schools and jobs

As men and women rally for the Equal Rights Amendment in this country, Japanese women, too, are seeking equal-opportunity legislation.

Mayumi Moriyama, of the Japanese Diet, points out that her country has given women equal rights since its new constitution of 1947. ''But we have no law that ensures equal opportunities for women,'' she says.

Yet she thinks that within a two-year period the Diet will write the legislation needed, and that it will be passed.

''Our Women's Bureau has been promoting this for some time, and we believe this is needed to provide equal education for women,'' she explains.

In Japan the general expectation is that after three years of working, women will marry and stay at home. As a result they are not given the opportunity to learn more or to gain positions of responsibility.

''Obtaining education is especially difficult,'' Mrs. Moriyama says.

Her group from the Women's Bureau is working ''eagerly'' to write the legislation with the advice of experts. They see a need to recognize women as independent, reliable workers.

And though custom for thousands of years is keeping women from advancing, Mrs. Moriyama believes the legislation will pass within two years.

She was in the United States with a group from the Diet, or national parliament of Japan, to explain how the Japanese seek to work with the US in trade.

Mrs. Moriyama is a lawyer and member of the Liberal Democratic Party, the House of Councillors (Tochigi Prefecture), the standing committee on commerce and industry, and the standing committee on audit, as well as a special committee on prices. Her husband serves in the House of Representatives.

She lived in New York City some years ago when her husband was here to sell camera equipment. ''It is nice to have friends and a good relationship between our two countries,'' she adds.

She speaks of the differences of the agriculture industries in both nations, indicating that the labor force in Japan is primarily women.

''People in Japan keenly compete, meeting the requirements consumers have in high standards of quality, price, utility, and design,'' she says. ''New ideas are welcome in Japan. We are not conservative and like to try new things.''

Mrs. Moriyama served as deputy director of the Women's Bureau and promoted the status of women in her work before serving in the legislative body.

She is looking for Diet members to write the detail needed in legislation which will give women equal status in the job market.

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