Japan’s film industry has a huge gender gap, likely due to harassment and long working hours


TOKYO – In the past 20 years, only 25 women have made a successful Japanese film. Japan ranked 120th in the latest Global Gender Gap Report, and a survey found that the country’s predominantly male-dominated film industry is no exception.

The survey was conducted by the Japanese Film Project (JFP), a non-profit organization founded by filmmaker Tatsuhito Utagawa, director Takashi Nishihara and journalist Erina Ito to study gender inequalities and working conditions in the Japanese film production and make policy recommendations.

According to the results of the group’s first survey, released on July 1, there were a total of 796 Japanese filmmakers released between 2000 and 2020 that grossed more than one billion yen (about $ 9 million) in the country. box office. the norm for a shot. However, only 25 of these directors, or 3.1%, were women.

A closer look at the numbers shows that there were hardly any in the early 2000s, a gradual increase in the 2010s, and but still only 8% in 2019. In 2020, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic , the rate was zero again.

The JFP also looked at the percentage of women involved in directing Japanese films released in 2019 and 2020. It found that around 10% of directors and cinematographers working on set were female, as were around 20%. screenwriters and editors working before and after filming. When divided into fiction, documentary, and animation genres, documentaries were more likely to have female directors and directors of photography than fiction films.

This photo shows the founders of the Japanese Film Project (clockwise from left): Erina Ito, Tatsuhito Utagawa and Takashi Nishihara.

When comparing the top five film companies in Japan (Toho Co., Toei Co., Shochiku Co., Kadokawa Corp. and Nikkatsu Corp.) with other companies, the ratio of female directors and cinematographers was higher in non-major companies.

Utagawa commented, “To close the gender gap, it is essential to improve the working environment on set. There is harassment, the working hours are long and sleep time is reduced. Even though we train young women, they can’t stand it. and leave. I want to use data as a catalyst for change and encourage the whole industry to work on change. ”

JFP plans to continue to conduct surveys each year and provide the data to industry organizations such as the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan and film festival organizers to request improvements.

Similar surveys have already been carried out in the United States and Europe, and attempts are being made in the industry to eliminate the biased gender ratio.

A survey by the University of Southern California, which JFP used as a benchmark, analyzed the top 100 grossing films of the year from 2007 to 2019, totaling 1,300. Of a total of 1,448 directors, 70, or 4.8%, were women. During this period, the lowest rate was 1.9% in 2013 and 2014, but it dropped to 10.6% in 2019.

In Europe, a survey was carried out by Le Lab Femmes de Cinema, a French research group that aims to improve the status of women in the film industry. According to this survey, the percentage of female directors across Europe from 2012 to 2018 reached 19.67%.

By country, Sweden had the highest proportion at 30.35%, followed by France at 24.13% and Spain at 14.66%. In 2017, 43.4% of Finnish films were directed by women, almost half of the total, but Finland is not a large film-producing country with only 38 titles produced per year.

In 2017, the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment spread from Hollywood. At the Cannes Film Festival in 2018, Jane Campion, director of the 1993 film “Le Piano”, underlined that of the nearly 1,700 directors selected for the competition section since the start of the festival, less than 5%, or 82, were women. There is a growing movement to bring the male-to-female ratio closer to 50% at Cannes and other film festivals around the world.

In Cannes this year, five of the nine members of the jury are women. In addition, the Berlin International Film Festival eliminated the genre distinction for the award for best actor this year. The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which presents the Oscars has also established new requirements for nominees for Best Picture from 2024, requiring that a certain percentage of women and racial minorities be involved in the film. .

The results of the JFP survey can be found on its official website at https://jfproject.org/en.

(Japanese original by Tomomi Katsuta, Cultural News Department)

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