This paper explores the issue of diversity leadership development within the sociocultural context of contemporary Japan, in particular, focusing on the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). To effectively develop the diversity leaders who are well aware of the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion within their organizations, what are the key requirements for being a JSDF diversity leader? What cultural differences do we need to take into account? What sorts of cultural awareness are required? What types of knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal characteristics (KSAOs), attitudes, and mindsets are required that can be “trained” or developed? These questions will be discussed based on a literature review and good practice cases both in the civilian and military sectors, while drawing on the latest policy developments in other countries such as the United States.
Compared to other advanced democratic countries, including NATO member countries, Japan is an underdeveloped country in terms of gender mainstreaming and diversity management. One of the key requirements for any effective diversity leadership development program in Japan is that the JSDF diversity leaders need to be well aware of the historical and sociocultural contexts in which the JSDF exist. It is also required to know the advancement of gender policies and related organizational initiatives promoted by the Government of Japan, the Ministry of Defense, and the JSDF. Diversity leaders also need to know about changing social values, family structure, labour markets, cultural and gender norms, etc. so that the JSDF can effectively adapt to the changing pace of the civilian social world. Challenging policy issues for developing diversity leaders are discussed in the last section of the paper.