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Nonpartisan group to draw up bill to increase female lawmakers

  • 2016-02-08 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: February 7, 2016 – p. 2)


 By Yuji Shinogase



Candidates in double candidacy, who are divided into male and female groups, will be placed on the list of proportional representation. If the allotted number of winners is three, two women and one man will be election winners, as seen in the illustration.


 In order to increase the ratio of female lawmakers, a nonpartisan group of Diet members is drawing up a draft bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law for submission to the current Diet session. The bill’s primary objective is to have male and female candidates be alternately elected in double candidacy for single-seat constituencies and proportional representation in the House of Representatives election. In this way, the group aims to increase the number of female Diet members so that more diverse opinions will be reflected in Diet deliberations.


 The group is “Diet Members’ League for Promoting Females’ Participation and Engagement in Politics” with 58 lawmakers in total from the two Houses. It is chaired by Masaharu Nakagawa, former minister of education and science, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan. The league’s secretary general is Seiko Noda, former chairman of general council of the Liberal Democratic Party.


 As the essential point, the league will specify in the draft bill that “Efforts will be needed to make the number of male and female candidates equal in elections of both Houses.”


 Specifically, the league will aim to revise the structure of proportional representation in the House of Representatives election. In the revision, candidates in double candidacy would be first divided between two groups, male and female. Next, election winners would be decided in accordance with the higher margin of defeat (the ratio between individual number of votes and the most votes in single-seat constituencies), with men and women alternating, so that the number of successful female candidates will increase.


 The league will later mull a revision of the open list system (in which candidates are elected in descending order of votes received) in the proportional representation of the House of Councillors election.


 In order to make the number of male and female candidates equal in both national and local assembly elections, the league is planning to submit “a bill for promoting gender equality in politics,” which political parties and national and local governments will address.


 The current number of female lawmakers in the Lower House is 45, which is 9.5% of the total. The number is significantly low compared with lower houses in other countries such as 36.5% in Germany, 31% in Italy, 29.4% in the UK, and 26.2% in France. The Upper House has 38 female lawmakers, 15.7% of the total.


 “Democracy needs to represent the interests of many people,” said Nakagawa. “The current situation skewed toward men should be rectified.”


 “Currently, women handle the greater part of child rearing and nursing,” pointed out Sophia University professor Mari Miura, who advised the league. “Therefore, the absence of a sufficient number of female Diet members means true issues are not reflected in politics.” The professor went on to say, “If the number of female lawmakers increases to around 30%, they will be able to demonstrate their talents in a wide range of specialized fields,” pointing out the benefits of increasing female lawmakers.

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