LDP’s attempt to demonstrate gender equality after Olympic sexism row backfires
It was a move designed to show that after the sexism row that forced one of its former prime ministers, Yoshiro Mori, to resign as head of Tokyo's Olympic organizing committee, Japan's ruling party was committed to gender equality.
This week, days after Mori had stepped down following his claim that meetings attended by "talkative women" tended to "drag on," the time had come to give female members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) more prominence at key meetings, party secretary-general Toshihiro Nikai said.
But the effort by Nikai to resolve the yawning gender disparity in his party quickly unraveled as it became evident that it was intended that the small groups of women attending the meetings would be seen but not heard.
The LDP, which has been ruling Japan almost unchallenged since 1955, suggested allowing groups of about five women to join its 12-member board of directors' meetings, 10 of whom are male, provided they remain silent observers.
On social media and by opposition MPs, the proposal was ridiculed. A Twitter user wrote, "Male chauvinism and discrimination against women is always part of the LDP."
Nikai, a strong factional leader who supported Yoshihide Suga last autumn to become prime minister, defended the proposal to allow female observers to send their views instead of speaking to the board's secretariat. "What kinds of discussions are going on is important to fully understand," Nikai, 82, told reporters. "That's what it's about, taking a look."
The suggestion was reportedly made by Nikai a day after Tomomi Inada, a former defense minister who is campaigning to increase the status of women MPs, proposed that women be allowed to attend major party meetings. After Suga named only two women to his cabinet, Inada called Japan a "democracy without women" last year.
"Women make up half of the population of Japan and 40 percent of the membership of the grassroots LDP," she said. "Japan's democracy can not help but be biased if women do not have a place to discuss policies that they want to be enacted."
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the global body of national parliaments, Japan's gender problem is expressed in the composition of its lower House of Parliament, where only 9.9 percent of MPs are women, well below the international average of 25.1 percent. Moreover, Japan's global gender parity ranking put it 121st out of 153 countries in the 2020 study of the World Economic Forum, 11th out of the previous year, and the largest difference among advanced economies.
Source The Guardian