Japan local assemblies and 40% with one to zero female members

Japan local assemblies and 40% with one to zero female members

Sawako Utsumi and Sawako Uchida

Modern Tokyo Times

In Japan, the next generation representing the Kishida and Kishi political clans – and other political families – are being groomed to take over once the older generation retires. Meanwhile, in local assemblies throughout the country, roughly 40% have only one female member or zero female members.

The survey by the Asahi Shimbun highlights the other tragic reality, the dominance of older male members dominating power. Accordingly, of the 31,722 local members, only 2.9% were women aged below 50. Therefore, sexism and absolute bias against younger members of society because males under 40 were also poorly represented at 3.1%.

Lee Jay Walker says, “Indeed, apart from a brief period of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) losing power at the national level, it is mainly a done deal that the ruling party governs. Hence, from the middle of the 1950s, political statism at national and local levels continue unabated concerning power concentration.”

The Asahi Shimbun reports, “Women made up 15.6 percent of all local assembly members. While the figure has been slowly increasing from the 11.7 percent in 2015 and 13.2 percent in 2019, the number is similar to the low figures for female Diet members. Only 10 percent of Lower House members are women, while the ratio in the Upper House is 25.8 percent.”

Outside Japan, the image is of a dynamic and modern nation that is democratic. Yet, scratch under the surface, the same families dominate power at the national level and older males dominate at all political levels – while the LDP dominates power apart from brief periods. Of course, younger males come to the fore in the ruling LDP if they are family connected.

The World Economic Forum last year ranked Japan 116th out of 146 nations covered by the Global Gender Gap Report. Accordingly, Japan is a mirage.

It looks ultramodern when you visit megacities and note the high technology concerning the transportation system. However, even the train system is a mirage for women because many train lines in Tokyo – for example – provide an end carriage for women to avoid sexual harassment (chikan) during the morning rush hour.

The Guardian reports (2021), “Japan fairs poorly in international comparisons of female representation, ranking 165th out of 190 countries, with women comprising just 9.9% of lower house MPs, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The picture is no different in local politics: just over 30% of town and village assemblies have no female representatives, according to 2019 figures.”

Unless the LDP is challenged politically at the national and regional levels – progress will remain slow.


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