(Eric 32 y.o.): I have always felt that Asian societies tend to favor men to women in almost every aspect of life from careers to the social heirarchy in society. This is evident in China’s one child policy that has resulted in families hoping for sons rather than daughters in hopes that their child as a son would benefit more in making money. However, that is another story which I will touch up on later.
To the question of whether I feel women are treated as "equals" in Japan, I would hesitantly say that women are gaining equality although quite slowly. A case in point (though not factual) would be to see how many women we see in powerful positions such as governmental posts, boardrooms of top companies, etc.. Very low numbers huh?
Also, look at the average salary of women and men when they enter a company. Though most of them are fairly given same positions/salary from the start. How many of them receive equal salaries 5 years on, 10 years, 15 years? You get the point.
I believe however that if the government provides better qualitive support and enforcement to eliminate gender discrimation and to provide women more opportunites that will allow them to shine, they can and will be equal to men. Someday.