Two women, political opposites, vying for the post of Prime Minister in Japan

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The inclusion of two women among the four candidates vying for the next prime minister appears to be a big step forward for Japan’s notoriously sexist policies. But their fate lies in the hands of a predominantly male, conservative ruling party – and the leading candidate has been criticized by observers for her right-wing gender policies.

Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda are the first women in 13 years to run for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in an election this week. The winner is certain to become the next prime minister due to a parliamentary majority held by the PLD and its coalition partner.

Although both are members of the LDP, they are politically opposed in many ways. Ultra-conservative Takaichi advocates a sort of paternalistic nationalism and a stronger army, while liberal-leaning pacifist Noda supports the advancement of women and sexual diversity.

“As tiny minorities in Japanese politics, women have limited choices to survive and be successful; they can face the politics of boys’ clubs or be loyal to them, ”said Mayumi Taniguchi, an expert on the role of women in society and politics in Osaka. University of the Arts.

Takaichi has apparently chosen loyalty while Noda appears to be working outside the mainstream but not confrontational, Taniguchi said. “They are quite different.”

In the race to nominate a successor to outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the women are competing with immunization minister Taro Kono and former foreign minister Fumio Kishida. Kono and Kishida are considered the best candidates; both come from well-known political families and belong to powerful party factions.

But Takaichi is seen by some as a booming candidate, with crucial support from former leader Shinzo Abe, whose arch-conservative vision she supports. The latest media surveys of party lawmakers show she is starting to gain support from party conservatives, while Noda remains firmly in fourth place.

The only other previous candidate was Yuriko Koike, currently governor of Tokyo, who ran in 2008.

The inclusion of two women among the four candidates vying for the next prime minister appears to be a big step forward for Japan’s notoriously sexist policies. Filepic, AP.

Progress for Women

While either Takaichi or Noda is unlikely to become prime minister, the fact that two women attempt the top post is seen as a step forward for the ruling party. Some experts, however, have criticized Takaichi’s gender policies.

“She is unlikely to promote women’s advancement if she wins,” said Mari Miura, professor of political science at Sophia University. the United States.”

Japan ranked worst among the advanced countries of the Group of Seven – 120th in a ranking survey on the gender gap of 156 countries from the World Economic Forum in 2021.

Women make up only about 10% of the Japanese parliament, and analysts say many tend to try to advance by showing loyalty to the party rather than striving for gender equality.

Takaichi has supported women’s health and fertility issues, in line with LDP policy of ensuring that women fulfill their traditional roles as good mothers and wives, but is unlikely to promote women’s rights. or sexual diversity, Miura said.

Takaichi, 60, was first elected to Parliament in 1993 and her role model is Margaret Thatcher. She has held key positions in the party and government, including those of Minister of the Interior and Gender Equality.

Drummer in a heavy metal band and motorcycle rider as a student, she supports the male succession of the imperial family and opposes same-sex marriage and a revision of 19th-century civil law that could allow women to keep their young daughter. Name.

Taniguchi, the analyst, says Takaichi’s support for the party majority is “unfortunate because his success might make many women think that speaking and acting on behalf of men is the way to be successful in this country.”

Takaichi, who shares Abe’s revisionist views on Japan’s wartime atrocities, regularly visits the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among the war dead and is considered by China and the Koreas to be the proof of Japan’s lack of remorse.

Its security policies include the development of a preemptive strike capability to counter threats from China and North Korea.

Political observers say Abe’s support for Takaichi was made in part because he is aware of the need to improve the party’s sexist image, and also to hijack votes from Kono, the current frontrunner and considered a maverick.

Abe had promoted the advancement of women, but her party made little progress and failed to meet the goal of having women hold 30% of decision-making positions by 2020, postponing it to ‘a decade.

Having a leader who prioritizes loyalty to men instead of fighting for the advancement of other women, like Takaichi, could thwart efforts to close the gender gap, Miura, the professor said.

While Noda reportedly pushes for more equality and diversity, her gender equality policy risks meeting opposition from conservatives.

Noda, 61, supports same-sex marriage and has campaigned for a quota system to increase the number of women legislators. She has promised to nominate women in half of her cabinet if she wins.

Noda had her first child, who is disabled, at age 50 after fertility treatment.

The rapid decline in Japan’s population poses a serious risk to national security, as Japan will not have enough troops or police in the decades to come, she said in a recent campaign speech.

“I seek to create a society of diversity by ensuring that people who have not been given leading roles in society, including children, women, people with disabilities and LGBTQ people, come to the fore. the scene, ”Noda said. – AP


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