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2014 June 18 - 24 TOP3 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

LDP sexist assemblyman pledged to ‘respect’ women’s rights

June 24, 2014

It has come to light that an assemblyman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who shouted out a sexist remark at a female member in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, had pledged to “protect” women’s rights in his election campaign last year.

While Your Party assemblywoman Shiomura Ayaka was questioning the metropolitan authorities on June 18 regarding measures to counter the falling birth rate, some members believed to be LDP assemblymen screamed out, “You’d better get married rather than ask such a question!”

This jeer sparked a firestorm of criticism from abroad as well as in Japan. At first, the LDP tried to evade the matter by insisting that they “have no idea” who hooted. Five days later, the party reluctantly announced that the heckler was Suzuki Akihiro, acting chair of the group of the LDP metropolitan assemblypersons. That day, on June 23, Suzuki apologized to Shiomura for his abusive remark and notified the LDP that he will leave the political group in the assembly.

The 51-year-old conservative sets out his “ten important policies” on his website. They include “the enhancement of measures to support families raising children” and “the realization of a society with a female-friendly working environment”.

On the same day, Japanese Communist Party member of the metropolitan assembly Oyama Tomoko told reporters that the heckling insults not only the assemblywoman but all women suffering from problems related to marriage and pregnancy. “If the LDP aims to bring the matter to an end just by ejecting Suzuki, it will be called into question whether the party is actually capable of cleansing itself,” she pointed out.

Referring to the fact that interpellations in the assembly have often been disturbed by insults and jeering, Oyama stressed, “In accordance with the spirit of representative democracy, we have to work to reform the assembly so that the presentation of sound arguments without insults and abusive responses will be guaranteed.”
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