Women Make Political Gains In Japan

A record high of 35 women won seats in the lower house of Japan’s Parliament on June 25th. Although the trend speaks promisingly for women’s advancement, many remain cautious of the Parliament’s male-dominated nature and the nation’s persistent sexist attitudes. Yasunobu Iwai, a professor of political science at Tokiwa University, remarks, “The attitude persists in Japanese politics that even if women get angry, it’s OK because they’ll go back to the kitchen.” Japan has one of the worst political gender inequities of any industrialized country, with women constituting a mere 7 percent of the 480 lower-house seats. Patriarchal stereotypes that characterize women as the caretaker rather than the politician endure in Japanese society. The Japanese women’s movement can take credit for the latest political gains for women and last year’s landmark decision that legalized the birth control pill.


Associated Press, Washington Post 26 June 2000

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