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- Japanese society is composed of a population of over 127 million people.
- The latest census recorded women outnumbering men by a margin of 51 percent versus 49 percent.
- Only 12 percent of the society is composed of university graduates.
- The majority of workers are non-union laborers working for small firms that employ fewer than 300 employees.
- Union members composed roughly 24% of the total working population but unions maintain a very vocal role in Japanese politics.
Japanese society is very urban. Less than five percent of the population lives outside of the nation's major cities. Those Japanese individuals who do live outside of the city tend to earn their living through agriculture.
Many outsiders consider Japanese society to be culturally and ethnically homogeneous. However, the nation is actually very diverse which includes many different culturally-distinct ethnic groups. For example, roughly 20,000 indigenous Aniu people live on the island of Hokkaido. In addition, approximately 1.2 million people of Okinawan descent live in Japan's Ryuku islands. Bigotry against this group is a serious concern for government officials. These minority groups must often face discrimination when applying for employment or educational opportunities.
Clearly, many social, political, and economic changes have occurred since the 1800s, all of which have had dramatic impacts on the experiences of the Japanese. For women, as mothers, wives, workers, warriors, and rebels against inequality, Japanese women have been an integral part of the life and culture around them, and have played major though changing roles throughout history. As the fight for equality seems to continue toward true equal conditions for women both at work and in society in general, Japanese women struggle to be afforded the status, income, and respect that is provided their male counterparts.