Since 1961, tax deductions for dependent spouses have discouraged women from finding full-time work. To remain qualified as dependents on their breadwinner husbands, Japanese wives operate under an effective income ceiling of 1.3 million Japanese yen, or $14,456. The ¥1.03 million income ceiling for spouses compares with an average annual salary of ¥4.37 million for private-sector employees in 2007 -- ¥5.42 million for men and ¥2.71 million for women -- according to the latest data released by the National Tax Agency.
It is common for wives to work fewer hours than their spare time from housework and child-rearing allows so they can take advantage of the system, which is widely regarded as giving housewives preferential treatment.
The DPJ says it wants to abolish the system under the assumption it has discouraged women from attaining economic self-reliance.
"The current tax system that particularly gives nonworking housewives preferential treatment is problematic and we think it should be rectified," then DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada said at a news conference Sept. 4.
This is great news! I hope Japan continues on its way towards gender equality. It would be great if more countries got their inspiration from this wonderful example and followed suit.