Tokyo – Including two women among the four candidates competing to become the next prime minister seems like a major step forward for Japan’s infamous sexist politics. However, their fate is in the hands of a conservative, predominantly male ruling party, and key female candidates have been criticized by observers for her right-wing gender policy.
Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda are the first women in 13 years to seek leadership from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the elections on Wednesday. The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partners make up the majority of the parliament, so the winner will surely be the next prime minister.
Both are members of the Liberal Democratic Party, but in many respects they are politically opposed. The ultra-conservative Takaichi advocates a kind of paternalistic nationalism and a stronger army, while liberal pacifist Noda supports women’s progress and sexual diversity.
“As a minority in Japanese politics, women have limited options for survival and success. Mayumi Taniguchi, an expert on the role of women in society and politics at Osaka University of Arts, said,” In the politics of men’s clubs. You can stand up and be loyal. ”
Takaichi seems to have chosen loyalty, but Noda seems to work outside the mainstream, but there is no conflict, Mr. Taniguchi said. “They are quite different.”
In the competition to select a successor to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, women are competing with Foreign Minister Taro Kono and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Kono and Kishida are considered to be the most promising candidates. Both come from well-known political parties and belong to a strong political party faction.
However, some consider Takaichi to be a rising candidate, with the decisive support of former leader Shinzo Abe, who supports an arch-conservative vision. According to the latest media survey of party members, Noda remains in fourth place, but with the support of the party’s conservatives, she’s starting to rake up.
The only other early female candidate was Yuriko Koike, who is currently the governor of Tokyo, and ran in 2008.
It is unlikely that either Takaichi or Noda will become prime minister, but the appointment of two women as prime minister is considered to be a progress of the ruling party. However, some experts have criticized Takaichi’s gender policy.
“If she wins, she probably won’t promote women’s progress,” said Mari Miura, a professor of political science at Sophia University. “She emphasizes her achievements in breaking the glass ceiling and declares that Japan is already a gender-equal country, even if it is ahead of the United States.”
Japan was ranked worst in the group of seven developed countries — 120th in the 2021 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Ranking Survey of 156 countries.
Women make up only about 10% of the Japanese parliament, and analysts say that many tend to move forward by showing party loyalty rather than pursuing gender equality.
Sanae Takaichi has supported women’s health and fertility issues in line with the LDP’s traditional good mother and wife role, but women’s rights and sexual diversity. Miura said it is unlikely to promote.
Takaichi, 60, was first elected to Congress in 1993, and her role model is Margaret Thatcher. She held positions in major political parties and governments, including the Minister of Interior and gender equality.
A heavy metal band drummer and student bike rider, she favors the imperial male-only succession and opposes same-sex marriage and amendments to 19th-century civil law that allow women to maintain their maiden names. doing. name.
Analyst Taniguchi said Takaichi’s support for the party majority could make many women think that speaking and acting on behalf of men is the way to succeed in the country. It’s a shame because there is one. “
Takaichi, who shares Prime Minister Abe’s revisionist view of Japan’s wartime atrocities, regularly visits Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among the war dead, and China and South Korea lack Japan’s remorse. I consider it as evidence.
Her security policy includes the development of preemptive strike capabilities to counter threats from China and North Korea.
Prime Minister Abe supported Takaichi in order to recognize the need to improve the party’s sexist image and to distract votes from the current leading candidate, Mr. Kono. Political watchers say it was because they thought it was something like that.
Prime Minister Abe was promoting women’s promotion, but the party made little progress and failed to reach its goal of having women account for 30% of decision-making positions by 2020, postponing it for ten years.
Professor Miura said having a leader who prioritizes loyalty to men rather than fighting for the progress of other women like Takaichi can counteract efforts to close gender disparities. rice field.
Mr Noda will promote more equality and diversity, but her gender equality policy is likely to be opposed by conservatives.
Noda (61) supports same-sex marriage and is campaigning for a quota system to increase the number of female lawmakers. She promised to appoint a woman to half of the cabinet if she won.
Noda had the first child with a disability at the age of 50 after childbirth treatment.
She said in a recent campaign speech that Japan’s rapidly declining population is a serious national security risk as Japan does not have enough troops and police in the coming decades.
“We want to create a diverse society centered on people who do not play a central role in society, such as children, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ,” says Noda.
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Two women fighting over the Prime Minister, political opposition
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