Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
Blog [Japanese]
HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 May 30 - June 5  > Law for gender equality in politics enacted
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2018 May 30 - June 5 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Law for gender equality in politics enacted

May 30, 2018

Akahata editorial (excerpt)

A law on the promotion of gender equality in politics was enacted on May 16.

Seventy-two years have passed since the 1946 House of Representatives election which was the first election where Japanese women became eligible to cast their vote and run for office. In the election, 39 female candidates were elected. Since then, Japanese women have been demanding total gender equality under the Constitution, the realization of woman empowerment, and the promotion of women’s participation in politics.

In Japan, the percentage of female Dietmembers stands at 10.1% in the House of Representatives and 20.7% in the House of Councilors. Japan is ranked 160th among 193 countries in gender equality in lower houses (Inter-Parliamentary Union, May 2018). Concerning local politics in Japan, female members account for only 9.9% in prefectural assemblies, 14.6% in city assemblies, and 9.8% in town and village assemblies. As such, Japan lags far behind other nations.

Women make up 30.8% of the Japanese Communist Party Dietmembers, 36.1% of the party’s local assembly members, and 48.2% of its membership. JCP Diet Policy Commission Chair Kokuta Keiji at a press conference just after the enactment of the law said, “We will work to increase the percentage of female lawmakers in the party to 50%. Not satisfied with the current level of participation, we will do our utmost to respond to women’s efforts to obtain equal opportunity in politics.”

The enactment of the law for gender equality in politics should be a step forward toward increasing the percentage of women in Japan’s political arena, which is currently near the lowest level in the world. All political parties need to exert sincere efforts to this effect and tackle many challenges.

In order to promote women’s participation in politics, it is essential to build a social environment that makes it easier for women of all ages to run for elected office and serve as a lawmaker. It is also necessary to overcome traditional ideas about gender roles.

Furthermore, a democratic reform to the parliamentary election system is necessary to increase women’s representation in the Diet. Scandinavian countries, where the percentage of female lawmakers is high, use the proportional representation election system. The experts’ panel of the government council for gender equality in its report notes that compared to a single-member election district system, a multi-member system and a proportional representation system are more likely to reflect a wide range of public opinion. The report points out that in countries using these systems, the percentage of female lawmakers tends to be higher than countries employing a single-member system. What is worse, candidates in Japan are required to pay an extraordinarily expensive deposit to run in national elections. It costs three million yen to become a candidate in an electoral district and six million yen in a proportional representation block. These costs hamper women from entering into a political career and should be revised without delay.
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved