Photo/IllutrationSaadia Zahidi, managing director of WEF, speaks to Japanese media in Geneva on Dec. 17. (Yu Yoshitake)

GENEVA--Japan placed 110th in global gender equality rankings for 2018, retaining its standing as the worst among Group of Seven major economies.

The Swiss nonprofit foundation World Economic Forum, perhaps more popularly known as a host of the Davos Forum, announced its findings of 149 countries here Dec. 18.

Japan's ranking was four notches higher than last year, but still the worst among G-7 nations.

Iceland topped the list for the 10th straight year, bolstering its image as a country where gender equality is the most advanced. Yemen was at the bottom of the list, as it was last year.

The annual report ranks countries based on 14 indicators in four categories: economic participation and opportunity; political empowerment; educational attainment; and health and survival.

The survey does not just compare countries to other economies; rather, the index simply reflects improvements in a country's performance.

This year, the average reduction ratio of gap around the world was 68 percent. Japan improved its ratio to 66.2 percent this year, compared with 65.7 percent in 2017.

In the category of political empowerment, the index for Japan dropped to 125th from 123rd in 2017, reflecting the small number of female legislators.

With regard to economic participation and opportunity, all categories, such as the ratio of women in the working population and the income disparity between men and women, improved the index.

However, because more countries were surveyed this year, Japan’s rank dropped to 117th from 114th in 2017.

Saadia Zahidi, managing director of WEF, said at a news conference for Japanese media on Dec. 17 that Japan needs to nurture a working culture in which fathers can take paternal leave or telework from home.

Although expressing her appreciation that so many women in Japan have a college education, she cited a recent scandal involving medical schools’ discrimination against female applicants in entrance exams.

“It is obviously very counter to what should be happening,” Zahidi said.

In the ranking by nations, the top four spots are dominated by North European countries. The gap reduction rate for the whole of Western Europe is 75.8 percent.

The gap reduction rate in East Asia and Pacific nations is 68. 3 percent. China placed 103rd, while South Korea ranked 115th.

WEF also investigated the gender gap in the Artificial Intelligence technology industry in cooperation with social network service LinkedIn. Zahidi said that among AI professionals, women have 22 percent of the positions, which means men occupy the other 78 percent, and a wider gap. She said Japan needs to address that problem.