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Record number of women win in prefectural assembly polls

  • April 8, 2019
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 3:40 p.m.
  • English Press

A record 237 women won seats in 41 prefectural assemblies as part of nationwide unified local elections on April 7, an increase from 207 compared with four years ago.


Unified local elections were held for the first time after a law was enacted last spring calling on political parties to try to field equal numbers of male and female candidates in national and local assembly elections.


While women from a range of backgrounds won seats in the latest elections, more than 150 female candidates were unsuccessful in their bids.


Female winners accounted for 10.4 percent of the total.


In Saitama Prefecture, 36-year-old Momoko Konno, a former Toda city assembly member in the prefecture, was newly elected as a prefectural assembly member from Toda.


“I am the first female prefectural assembly member from Toda,” Konno beamed. “I intend to focus on policies geared toward education and child-rearing.”


In the past two previous Toda city assembly elections, Konno won the largest number of votes.


This time, Konno adopted a high-profile strategy by teaming up with Yuriko Okamura, 38, who ran for the Saitama prefectural assembly member for the first time from the Kawaguchi district adjacent to Toda.


Kanno and Okamura created election posters of the two shown together. Okamura was elected by a landslide.


Last summer, the pair joined in establishing a women’s group in Saitama Prefecture as part of efforts to expand the role of women in society at all levels.


In Fukuoka Prefecture, Emi Naruse, 49, was elected for the first time as a Fukuoka city assembly member, supported by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.


Naruse, a homemaker, works part-time in local government and obliged to live away from her husband due to his job.


Naruse had little time to focus on the election, such as giving street speeches in the morning and late afternoon, because she is busy raising her daughter alone and had to make lunchboxes and take her to and from school.


But once the election campaign kicked off, Naruse arranged for friends to collect her daughter from school and help out with other activities.


“I feel my role is to convey the views of women, ordinary citizens and parents to those in administrative positions,” Naruse said.

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