Reasons for Few Women in Japanese Politics

Kaori Ishikawa introduced herself to an audience in Northern Japan as a 33-year-old who had three children. Her audience comprised of men mostly. Ms. Ishikawa asked her audience why they wouldn’t elect her as their parliamentarian. Japan has ranked as the worst country in women in leadership positions especially politics. In fact, the country has just nine women in the lower house. This means that the country ranks number 165 out of 193 countries in terms of women in power. A recent research carried out in the richest countries in the world left Japan at the bottom position. While this seemed like it would change with the Sunday election, nothing significant happened with women leaders. Earlier this month, Tokyo mayor Yuriko Koike formed a party of her own. She further said that she would be running for parliament. This also led to the speculations in Japan that she was thinking about running for the position of prime minister. While she decided not to run two weeks ago, the number of women candidate using her party is alarming. In fact, women candidates in her party made only a fifth. The rest were male. For the 1,180 candidates who participated in Sunday elections, only a fifth were women.

The funny thing about the latest number is that it’s the highest turnout in years. As for the leading party known as the Democratic Party that is led by Shinzo Abe, only one woman candidate turned out in a group of 12 candidates. This is despite the recent comments by the prime minister who says that he wants to create a society that allows women to thrive. The governing party has also seen a decline in the number of women participating as candidates by 40 percent. Tokyo Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development head Yumiko Murakami said that the current situation is bad where Japan ranks bottom in the list of developed countries. The situation in Japan politics for women has been worsened by the culture of the nation and news media. For instance, the public is more interested in personalities. On the other hand, Japanese people are interested in looks compared to the political accomplishments. Several women were pounded by news outlets for infidelity. One such woman is Shukan Bunshun. It’s also important to note that Japanese women are educated just like their male counterparts. Waseda University in Tokyo political science professor Mieko Nakabayashi says that it’s not easy to convince Japanese women to run for office.

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