A key issue female Japanese voters focus on in election season is whether the men who dominate politics are serious about welcoming more women to their ranks. More female lawmakers are needed to speak for Japanese women at a time when the nation faces challenges such as an acute shortage of places at children’s day care facilities. Out of 389 candidates in Sunday’s Upper House election, 96 are women, down nine from the Upper House election three years ago. The ratio of female candidates to males is up by 0.5 percentage point to 24.7 percent because the overall number of people running has fallen from 433 to 389.
The figures suggest politicians are moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to tapping female candidates, even though most people agree, at least on the surface, that Japan needs more women lawmakers.
Seventy years after women won the right to vote and run for office, there has been little progress in getting greater female representation in politics.
In the first postwar Lower House election, held in 1946, women won 39 seats, or 8.4 percent of the seats up for grabs; today, they occupy only 9.5 percent of the seats in the Lower House. In the Upper House, women hold 38 seats, or 16 percent of the total.