In his address at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that empowering women would lead to economic growth.

The usually hawkish premier said women should be given a greater role in society and that it was his priority to create an environment where women have an equal opportunity to excel, especially in work.

“I hope to highlight the importance of women’s role in the 21st century and communicate to the world the Japanese government’s emphasis on the importance of women,” Abe said Monday before departing for New York.

Abe cited “womenomics,” a theory which argues that the women’s advancement in a society is directly linked to its growth rate.

Abe pledged $3 billion in official development assistance over the next three years that will focus on women’s participation in society and the empowerment of women; health and medical care for women; and prevention and resolution of conflict as related to women.

On Syria, Japan will provide $60 million to help refugees and internally displaced people due to the ongoing conflict.

Abe also declared support and cooperation towards the international community’s effort to dispose of the country’s chemical weapons.

Abe’s feminist speech was seen an attempt to soften his image as Japan has been embroiled in the issue of “comfort women”.

“The topic of comfort women in the US has been troublesome for Mr. Abe, and the speech will be his attempt to show that Japan has changed, and that his Abenomics economic policies incorporate women,” Nihon University politics professor Tomoaki Iwai told Japan Real Time.

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image: sebra /