CDP leadership candidates seek to increase number of women in politics

A focal point for Tuesday’s election to determine the next leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is how the candidates intend to increase the number of female lawmakers.

All four candidates to lead the country’s main opposition party said they aim to win over voters by promoting the participation of women in politics ahead of next summer’s Upper House election.

In debates ahead of the CDP leadership election, candidates said they will vigorously support female members in the Upper House election.

CDP policy chief Kenta Izumi underlined the importance of gender equality in a debate Thursday, promising to prepare an environment in which child-rearing mothers can easily take part in election campaigns.

Chinami Nishimura, a former state minister of health, labor and welfare and the only woman among the four, said she wants the party to have an equal number of male and female candidates in the Upper House election.

“We need to think about substantial support for female candidates,” said leadership hopeful Junya Ogawa, a former parliamentary vice minister for internal affairs and communications.

In its party platform, the CDP promises to “establish gender equality” and the party aimed to increase the number of female lawmakers in last month’s Lower House election.

But of its 239 CDP candidates in the general election, only 44 were female and just 13 won a seat.

Seiji Osaka, a former special adviser to the prime minister and another candidate to lead the CDP, said in Tuesday’s debate that it would be easier for women to become lawmakers if female candidates running only for Lower House proportional representation seats top the party lists for such seats in all regional blocs.

Such a measure would be difficult, Ogawa has said, adding that there needs to be understanding from male candidates.

Nishimura was also cautious, saying that such a measures could lead to conflict within the party.

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