Political parties eager to have more female lawmakers

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Liberal Democratic Party’s Executive Acting Secretary General Seiko Noda, left, greets participants of a study group convened to increase the number of female lawmakers, at the Diet building on Wednesday.

Both the ruling and opposition parties are eager to increase their numbers of female lawmakers, a move partly aimed at conveying positive positions regarding women’s participation in politics ahead of upcoming House of Representatives elections. But in reality, the parties are struggling to increase the number of female candidates.

On Wednesday, bipartisan female lawmakers held the first meeting of a study group on the introduction of a quota for female Diet candidates.

Seven people including the Liberal Democratic Party’s Executive Acting Secretary General Seiko Noda and Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Deputy Leader Kiyomi Tsujimoto attended the meeting, which was held in response to calls from journalist Soichiro Tahara.

The group will meet once a month to discuss ways to increase the number of female candidates.

However, the LDP is cautious about introducing a quota system. Noda only went as far as saying, “Major and minor parties have their own approaches. We hope that constructive opinions will help to reach a conclusion.”

In the 2017 lower house election, 7.53% of LDP candidates were women, the lowest percentage among the major parties.

“We might be viewed as an old-fashioned party that is reluctant to promote women,” an executive LDP lawmaker said.

In April, the LDP’s Special Committee on Promoting Women’s Active Participation proposed doubling the number of female candidates to 15% in the next lower house election. But the idea has been left up in the air due to opposition in the party. “The proposed target is beyond the level it should be,” said a former Cabinet member.

The LDP has already decided to field incumbent candidates in most single-seat constituencies, making it difficult to make major changes.

Among opposition parties, the CDPJ, the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party have set numerical targets for female candidates in the next lower house election. The CDPJ wants 30% of its candidates to be women, but as of Wednesday, the percentage of female candidates expected to run was only 16.4%.

“We’ll do our best to reach 20% at least,” said CDPJ Leader Yukio Edano.

The Yomiuri Shimbun