By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo
The UN noted many equality laws were already in place
A United Nations panel has urged Japan to take stronger measures to eliminate gender inequality.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women said the country's efforts were "insufficient".
It pointed to unequal laws on marriage, the treatment of women in the labour market and the low representation of women on elected bodies.
But the committee said Japan had made great progress reducing the already low maternal mortality rate.
It said the world's second-biggest economy ranked 54th in the world in terms of gender equality.
It was concerned over the low legal penalty for rape and the widespread availability in Japan of violent pornography, it added.
And the committee said Japan should set goals to increase the number of women in senior decision-making positions in the workplace and politics.
It said the age at which women can marry should be raised from 16 to 18 in line with men.
And a six-month waiting period before remarriage after divorce that applies only to women should be scrapped.
The committee called for immediate action, but did note that Japan had already put in place numerous laws to promote gender equality.