Female executives are increasing in the nation’s banking industry even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is calling for better utilization of women in the workforce as part of the government’s growth strategy measures.
“Diverse human resources hold the key to sustained corporate growth,” says Atsumi Arima, 51, the first female executive officer at any of Japan’s three megabanks, excluding those invited from outside.
Like Arima at Mizuho Bank, women currently holding executive posts in the male-dominated industry joined their banks when or after the law for equal job opportunities between men and women took effect in 1986.
Arima joined Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, a predecessor of Mizuho Bank, in April 1986. Witnessing sophisticated U.S. financial techniques such as mortgage loan securitization in the 1980s, she grew confident that these would also be popular in Japan.
She distinguished herself in the field of corporate mergers and acquisitions, backed by her expertise on the advanced financial techniques.
At Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Teiko Kudo, 50, serves as executive officer. After joining Sumitomo Bank, a predecessor of Sumitomo Mitsui, in 1987, she was involved in large projects, including one to build a chemical complex in the Middle East.
Kudo is regarded as one of the key members who created the foundation of the project finance business, a key operation of the bank.
“Overseas infrastructure projects have strong social significance because they support people’s lives,” Kudo says, but “know-how to closely evaluate projects cannot be acquired in a short period of time.”
What both women seem to have in common is foresight and expertise.
At Nomura Trust and Banking Co. is President Chie Shinpo, 48, the first woman to assume the top post at a Japanese bank.
With more than two decades of experience in the securities industry facing cutthroat competition, Shinpo has made her way up working in accordance with her motto, “Don’t hesitate to change.”
“Diversity in human resources generates efficiency and competition, which in turn create new potential for growth,” she says.
At last, companies are beginning to appropriately evaluate able women who have worked harder than men despite the headwind that persisted even after the equal job opportunity law was implemented, says Akiko Ouchi, an associate professor at the Kwansei Gakuin University Business School.
What is required next is how to appropriately evaluate working women who are also bringing up families, she says.