Just 4 may­ors defy Ja­pan’s ‘womenomics’

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Lo­cal elec­tions in Ja­pan pro­duced just four fe­male may­ors of the 222 po­si­tions up for grabs, re­sults showed Mon­day, un­der­lin­ing the chal­lenges for Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s pledge to put women in 30 per­cent of se­nior roles by 2020.

Na­tion­wide there was an in­crease by one in the to­tal num­ber of fe­male may­ors and gov­er­nors, to 26 of 1,788 posts af­ter Sun­day’s polls.

Now two women are gov­er­nors, and 24 are may­ors — 20 of whom were not up for re-elec­tion this year.

There were va­can­cies for the top lo­cal job in 222 cities, towns and vil­lages across the na­tion, but only 142 were con­tested. The re­main­ing 80 won by de­fault. Voter turnout was low across the coun­try.

The elec­tions, which also saw nearly 600 mu­nic­i­pal as­sem­blies elected, were the sec­ond wave af­ter polls held ear­lier in the month.

They come four months af­ter Abe won re-elec­tion as pre­mier and as he con­tin­ues to push the no­tion that Ja­pan should be a place “where women can shine” — a pol­icy he has dubbed “womenomics.”

That is part of his drive to rein­vig­o­rate the econ­omy, partly by get­ting more of the na­tion’s un­der-em­ployed but highly ed­u­cated women into the work­force.

But, say ob­servers, the lop­sided re­sults show Abe’s 30 per­cent tar­get for women oc­cu­py­ing se­nior roles is still a long way off.

As of 2013, the por­tion of women em­ployed in se­nior po­si­tions in Ja­pan’s pri­vate sec­tor stands at about 8 per­cent, and even lower in the public sec­tor, at around 6 per­cent.

“Four women in may­oral elec­tions is cer­tainly too low,” said Midori Tera­machi, a for­mer assem­bly­woman in cen­tral Gifu pre­fec­ture and a mem­ber of a group work­ing to in­crease the num­ber of women in lo­cal as­sem­blies.

“It’s dif­fi­cult for women to run for elec­tions in the first place be­cause of gen­der-based dis­crim­i­na­tion per­sist­ing in the coun­try­side,” she said, not­ing that male can­di­dates rarely have re­spon­si­bil­ity for house­keep­ing and chil­drea­r­ing.

Some women were elected in Sun­day’s polls, in­clud­ing Rie Saito, a deaf for­mer bar host­ess, age 31, who was elected to Tokyo’s Kita ward as­sem­bly on the pledge of end­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion.

De­spite its sta­tus as the world’s third largest econ­omy, Ja­pan ranks 115th in a sur­vey on the ra­tio of women in na­tional par­lia­ments be­low In­dia, Malaysia and some African coun­tries such as Zam­bia and Niger.

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