* Abe seeks change by 2020 to bolster workforce
* Car maker's CEO warns rush could be counter-productive
* Ghosn says 10 pct target more realistic
By Yoko Kubota and Ritsuko Ando
TOKYO, July 17 Nissan Motor Co Chief
Executive Carlos Ghosn raised doubts over Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe's call to appoint women to 30 percent of top
jobs by 2020, saying rushing to meet such a target could set the
firm and its staff up for failure.
Abe issued his call as part of a strategy to encourage more
women to work in the world's third-biggest economy, replenishing
Japan's dwindling workforce in a rapidly ageing population. Yet
with women now filling just 1 percent of corporate executive
committee jobs, the target is ambitious.
Scepticism from Ghosn, a Brazil-born French citizen of
Lebanese origin considered one of the more progressive
executives in the country, echoes resistance among Japan's more
tradition-bound business leaders to the 30 percent target. Ghosn
said aiming for 10 percent by end-March 2017 was a more
realistic goal for Nissan, where women now fill around 7 percent
of management positions.
"Frankly, what I don't want is a burst of females in
management with a lot of failures," Ghosn told a news conference
in Tokyo on Thursday, when asked about the 30 percent target.
"We need to show successes. If people start to see ... failures,
I think it's going to be counter-productive."
Abe has vigorously talked up the potential for women to
contribute more to Japan's economy in line with his
administrations reforms to stoke growth dubbed 'Abenomics'. But
his pledge at the Davos World Economic Forum in January that
women would occupy 30 percent of leading jobs in Japan by 2020
is lofty: Women now account for only 11 percent of mid-to-senior
management and just 1 percent of executive committee members,
according to McKinsey.
The number of women in management positions at Nissan is
well ahead of many Japanese auto makers. Around 1 percent of
managers at rivals Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co
"I totally understand and support the Japanese government's
efforts to promote women in society. Obviously the Japanese
government has a lot of objective reasons to do that," Ghosn
said. "But I think 30 percent is ambitious."
Japan's top business lobby, Keidanren, opposes
across-the-board targets and has said companies should adopt
their own individual strategies to promote more women.
The government has said it will pave the way by promoting
more female civil servants, and Abe has suggested that companies
start out by appointing at least one female executive.
Economics Minister Akira Amari, however, recently told
Reuters that he wasn't keen to force numerical quotas, even in
government positions. "If there aren't the right people but you
force it, the means become the target," he said.
Not all are against targets, however. One of the most senior
female executives in Japan's financial industry, Keiko Tashiro,
a Daiwa Securities Group executive managing director
and head of the brokerage's Americas business, said in a recent
interview with Reuters she was hopeful they could prompt more
debate among companies.
Tashiro was among the first university graduates to enter
the work force after Japan's parliament first passed equal
employment opportunity law in 1985. She said she now sees a gap
between companies who have since made a real effort to boost
career opportunities for women and those who haven't.
"I think targets are, to some extent, necessary," she said.
"There should be more discussions over why such targets are
necessary, and there must be more debate about how such targets
can be achieved."
(Additional reporting by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Kenneth