Chie Shinpo, senior managing director of Nomura Holdings, will head the brokerage giant’s banking arm, becoming the first woman to lead in a deeply patriarchal sector of the Japanese business world.
The 48-year-old executive was chosen to be president of Nomura Trust and Banking—the first Japanese bank to be led by a woman, according to the Japanese Bankers Association. Shinpo will officially assume the top post on April 1, Nomura said Wednesday.
Shinpo’s appointment comes amid Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to improve women‘s participation in the workforce in a bid to break down the male-dominated corporate culture and revive Japan’s sluggish economy.
Abe has vowed to alleviate the child care burden for mothers and give them more opportunities by encouraging companies to bring more female employees to the boardroom.
None of the nation’s three biggest banks—Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho Financial—have top female executives, according to a government survey. The central bank has only one woman on its nine-member board.
Shinpo said her gender was not a hindering factor to her work.
“When I’m at work, I don’t really think about my gender,” she was quoted by an online Japanese business magazine as saying.
“I’ve never though I was disadvantaged professionally because I’m a woman … but maybe it’s more correct to say I ‘assimilated’ into a male-dominated workplace.”
“But I think we need to make a business environment that is comfortable for younger female workers,” she said.
Shinpo joined Nomura Securities Co in 1989 and became the senior managing director at Nomura Holdings in April 2012.
Also, Daiwa Securities Group Inc on Wednesday announced it had chosen Executive Managing Director Keiko Tashiro as board director, marking the company’s first internal appointment of a woman on its board.
The majority of Japanese working women quit after having their first child, according to government data, as long hours and few childcare options often make re-entry into the labor force difficult.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: MIKI Yoshihito (´･ω･)/Flickr