Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nearly all-male Cabinet doesn’t look good for a modern society

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nearly all-male Cabinet doesn’t look good for a modern society

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The new Japanese Cabinet is like a virtual all male members club and does little for the image of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Of course, the under-representation of women in politics in Japan – and far too many nations – is nothing new. However, this is a backward step for Abe compared with the past. Therefore, it is deeply disappointing that in 2018 you have yet another virtual all “exclusive male club.”

It is well and fine for Japan to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and stress equality. Yet, the Abe Cabinet seems like an outdated “exclusive male club” – apart from one female member who was most likely picked because of the obvious male bias. Hence, with Japan allegedly altering course by opening up senior management positions to women, the Japanese Cabinet sums up the reality on the ground for much of society.

Abe may have picked new members while relying on the backbone of close personal ties with the 6 retained members, but apart from the selection of one female his Cabinet looks staid, out of touch, and marginalizing women once more. Indeed, if you close your eyes, you would not presume that this Cabinet belongs to a modern and technologically advanced nation. However, Abe seems not to care despite some lofty comments about providing greater opportunities to women and seeming more open during the early stage of his second stint in power. Instead, his new Cabinet looks extremely lop-sided, in relation to marginalizing women based on the uneven look of only selecting one female politician to a senior position.

It seems that Abe prefers his close male politicians because even the bribery-tainted Akira Amari was reinstalled after being forced to quit in 2016. In other words, even male tainted politicians are given another shot based on the usual power processes of Abe before women.

Unsurprisingly, Abe maintains entrenched loyalty to the Finance Minister Taro Aso despite countless past blunders – and some based on sheer arrogance, to say the least. The other five members retained are Keiichi Ishii, Taro Kono, Toshimitsu Motegi, Hiroshige Seko, and Yoshihide Suga.

Indeed, Aso, only this year caused an uproar for stating, “There is no such thing as criminal sexual harassment.” His words were based on trying to defend the Vice Minister Junichi Fukuda who resigned after being caught verbally harassing a female reporter. However, the scandal seems to have bypassed Abe because once more his friend Aso – a person who praised the deeds of the Nazi putsch against the Weimar Republic in the past – is in the Cabinet.

The Daily Mail reports, “The Shukan Shincho magazine last week reported that Fukuda had made inappropriate comments to several female journalists and on Friday released audio of what it said was the top bureaucrat at a bar with a reporter.”

On the tapes, widely believed to be Fukuda, he says, “I’ll tie up your hands. Can I touch your breasts?”

He also allegedly states, “Shall we have an affair once the budget is approved?”

Yet, despite the original comments by Aso, it seems that Abe is more concerned about his close inner-circle of male loyalists rather than tackling sexism. Equally, how can he chastise major corporations for not providing an environment where all workers can reach the top irrespective of gender after picking only one female Cabinet minister?

The only female in the new Cabinet is Satsuki Katayama who will be in charge of regional revitalization and other projects. Hence, the Cabinet picked by Abe seems to be based on a statist approach that seems to marginalize women – just like what happens in society at large when it comes to senior positions in the workforce. Therefore, the new Cabinet is extremely disappointing for a modern and technologically advanced nation.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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