U.N. agency welcomes Abe's speech on empowering women

The head of the U.N. agency promoting women's rights has welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech earlier this week at the global body's annual meeting where he advocated "a society in which women shine."

U.S. magazine TIME, meanwhile, published an article in its online edition that said Japan needs to transform its corporate culture that tends to bar women from playing an active role.

The Japanese leader devoted roughly half of his General Assembly address on Thursday to issues relating to women, pledging to work for the empowerment of women and the prevention of sexual violence against women in armed conflict.

U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, "We wholeheartedly welcome" his statement and "applaud his decisive leadership in making women and girls a top priority in his political and policy agenda."

The chief of the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women also said they are "very encouraged" by Japan's intention to become a leading contributor to the organization.

The TIME magazine article noted that women account for only a small 7 percent of senior positions in management in Japan and said the prime minister "needs to do more to change the business culture," which it said is holding talented women back. It cited programs undertaken by British banking giant HSBC and international accountacy firm Deloitte for supporting women as effective models.