Hina Matsuri, the Doll Festival (Japanese Festival for the Girls)

People might say I am getting old, but I like Hina Matsuri. Great dolls for the Doll Festival are displayed at the prime minister’s office, too. As you may already know, last week I attended three meetings at the office of the prime minister: Innovation 25, the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, and the Council for Science and Technology Policy. I think it is good that these meetings underlined the urgent need for university reform.

One of the recent headlines was that Harvard University has selected a female president for the first time in its nearly 400-year history. Four out of eight Ivy League universities now have female presidents; the others are Princeton, Pennsylvania, and Brown University. Other elite universities such as MIT and Cambridge also have women as presidents. I have written about women presidents and empowerment of women on this blog many times.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Dr. Setsuho Ikehata, the president of Tokyo University of Foreign Study ended her term (she is a great woman and we are always in agreement), so we now have only one female president of about eighty some national universities (I don’t mean that national universities are more important, but I am speaking to you from a historical context). Ms. Atsuko Tsuji, an editorial writer of the Asahi Shimbun in her recent column on first woman president of Harvard University rightly pointing out this fact of only one woman at the top of national universities in Japan. Only one woman president is sad. The whole world is watching Japan. I don’t think it is this number that is the real issue but I feel like this number reflects how Japanese society thinks of universities and the gender issue. In this era of globalization, what universities can communicate to the society and to the world is very important.

This is what I felt as the Doll Festival approached. Japan’s "Gender Development Index" is ranked number 8 in the world, but the "Gender Empowerment Index" is in the forties. This is a shame.