Number of women elected to lower house seats drops below 10%

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The CDPJ’s Harumi Yoshida, a first-time winner, expresses her joy after winning the Tokyo Constituency No. 8 seat in Sunday’s election in Suginami Ward, Tokyo.

The number of women in the 465-member House of Representatives dropped below 10% following Sunday’s election, with just 45 of 186 female candidates, or 24.2%, winning seats, The Yomiuri Shimbun has found.

In the previous election in 2017, 47 women were elected, accounting for 10.1% of all lower house members. The percentage of women is now 9.7%.

By party, the Liberal Democratic Party had the most female candidates elected with 20, followed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan with 13 and the Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) and Komeito with four each. The Japanese Communist Party had two, and the Democratic Party for the People and Reiwa Shinsengumi one apiece.

Sunday’s lower house election was the first held since the Law on Promotion of Gender Equality in the Political Field, a law aimed at achieving parity in the number of male and female candidates, went into effect in 2018.

However, of the total 1,051 candidates in the election, women accounted for just 17.7%, slightly lower than the previous election and highlighting that barriers remain to the participation of women in politics.

On a positive note, there was a total of 97 first-time winners voted into office — 41 in single-seat constituencies and 56 in proportional representation blocs. They accounted for 20.9% of the total, well surpassing the 56, or 12.0%, from the 2017 election in an indication of progress in putting new blood into the Diet.

The LDP had the highest number of newcomers with 33. Ishin, which made great gains in this election, was next highest with 27 — accounting for 65.9% of its total seats won — followed by the CDPJ (16), Komeito (9), DPFP (4), Reiwa (3) and Social Democratic Party (1).