TOKYO – Japan appointed five women to the 18-member Cabinet Wednesday in a small but symbolic step toward gender equality in government, which remains male-dominated in many nations.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has made the empowerment of women a centerpiece of his economic revival strategy for Japan, increased the number of female ministers from two in his previous Cabinet.
Many countries have female ministers, but they often remain far outnumbered by men. France is an exception, as are the Scandinavian countries.
GREAT BRITAIN: Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been accused of packing his government with middle-aged, private-school-educated white men like himself, appointed more women in a Cabinet shakeup in July. Five of the 22 members are now female.
FRANCE: About half the 34-member Cabinet is female, fulfilling a 2012 election promise of Socialist President Francois Hollande.
UNITED STATES: Three of the 16 members of President Barack Obama's Cabinet are women: the secretaries of the interior, commerce and health and human services. Obama has also appointed women to Cabinet-rank positions including the administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration.
CHINA: Three women are members of the Chinese government's 36-member Cabinet, or State Council — one vice premier and the ministers of health and justice. The country's apex of political power, the ruling Communist Party's powerful 7-member Politburo Standing Committee, is all male.