A record 35 women won seats in Japan’s Sunday House of Councilors election after votes were tallied on Monday, beating the previous record of 28 set in 2016 and tied in 2019.
The result reflects a slow but gradual shift in the country’s male-dominated political landscape, with the number of female candidates standing in the triennial elections also the highest on record, at 181.
Kiyomi Tsujimoto of the Democratic Constitutional Party of Japan speaks to reporters in Takatsuki, Osaka prefecture, after being assured of winning her seat in the House of Councilors election on July 10, 2022. (Kyodo)
Among the women elected were Junko Mihara and Satsuki Katayama from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Renho from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
“I’m happy,” said Kiyomi Tsujimoto, former CDPJ deputy chief. Tsujimoto became an upper house candidate after being elected to the House of Representatives seven times, but lost her seat in last October’s general election.
“I wanted to get back to the Diet quickly and become someone who solves problems in society,” the 62-year-old said.
The number of female candidates also equaled the highest ever rate of women running for a seat at 33.2%, surpassing 30% for the first time in post-war Japan, whether in the upper house or in the the lower house. However, the figure was still below the government‘s target for the ratio to reach 35% by 2025.
Opposition parties notably achieved high rates of female candidates in Sunday’s election, with the Communist Party of Japan and CDPJ at over 50%, followed by the People’s Democratic Party at a fraction over 40%.
The LDP was below 23.2%, but achieved its goal of having 30% women among its candidates in the proportional representation section.
“We can see that the political world tried to respond to the social movement towards diversity, as the number of women increased thanks to positive parties on the quota system which called for a certain number of female candidates,” Toko said. Tanaka, a University of Tokyo Professor familiar with gender issues.
Pointing out that Japan is known internationally for its gender inequality in politics and business, Tanaka said she “would like every party to work to solve the problem by listening to the voices of those who voted in the elections.”
Renho (2nd from L) of the opposition Democratic Constitutional Party of Japan bows in Tokyo after being assured of winning her seat in the House of Councilors election on July 10, 2022. (Kyodo) == Kyodo
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