Japan Ranks Among Arab Economies in Appointing Women to Corporate Boards

Minimal Progress Seen Since 1998


TOKYO - November 10, 2009 - A new report from Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI), a U.S.-based nonprofit, reveals that Japan's top companies continue to lag well behind those in other parts of the world in appointing women to their Boards of Directors.  Only

17 seats on the Boards of Directors of Japan's top 100 companies are occupied by women or a mere 1.4% of the 1,198 board positions in these pace-setting companies.


These numbers rank Japan well below all the industrialized economies.  In an overall comparison among 35 countries for which data is available on women directors, Japan places near the bottom--below Jordan (2%), Oman (2.3%), Kuwait (2.7%) and two European countries:  Italy (2.1%) and Portugal (3%).  Topping the list of countries with the highest percentage of women directors are the Nordic countries led by Norway with 44%.  The U.S. (15.2%), South Africa (14.6%) and the U.K. (11.7%) do not do as well in appointing women to corporate boards as the companies in the Nordic region.


(For full press release, click here)

 Key Findings of 2009 Report:  Women Board Directors of Japan's Top 100 Companies

Findings based upon corporate data as of June 30, 2009

  • Women hold only 17 seats on the Boards of Directors of the top 100 Japanese companies out of a total of 1,198 positions.

  • The percentage of women board directors on the top 100 Japanese companies is 1.4%.

  • Sixteen different companies have at least one woman on their Board of Directors, an increase over 1998 when only two companies had women on their boards.

  • However, the majority of Japan’s board directors remain predominantly male – 84% of Japan’s top 100 companies do not have a single woman on their boards.

  • Only one company – Sony – has two women board directors.  It is also the only company among the 20 largest that has appointed women to its board.

    Sakie Fukushima

    Chairman, Korn Ferry International/Japan


    Yukako Uchinaga

    CEO, Berlitz International and

    Vice Chair, Benesse Corporation

  • Of the 17 board seats held by women, only one is an “inside,” or executive, directorship.  The other 16 positions are “outside,” or non-executive directorships.

  • Two women – Nobuko Matsubara and Eiko Kono – hold two directorships on two of these top companies.

  • Compared to other countries in which studies of women board directors have been conducted, Japan places near the bottom, between Jordan (2%) and Bahrain (1%).

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