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The fate of four new female candidates endorsed by LDP for UH election

According to a survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a place for exchanges among lawmakers from across the world, Japan ranks 162nd in the percentage of female lawmakers. It ranks lowest among the Group of Seven (G7) major economies. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been making efforts to rectify this shameful situation ahead of the Upper House election, but these efforts have not earned the party any praise. 


A political reporter explains: “The LDP has increased the number of official female proportional representation candidates by 30% for the Upper House election. This initiative was led by Secretary-General Motegi Toshimitsu. At a press conference on May 30, he said confidently, ‘Ten of the 33 proportional representation candidates will be women. We want to change the political world to achieve a vibrantly diverse society where women and young people can more actively take part.’”


On that day, the LDP announced four additional female proportional representation candidates and completed the necessary procedures to field them. The four candidates are (1) Arisato Maho, a 39-year-old former member of the Toshima Ward Assembly in Tokyo; (2) Eri Arfiya, a 33-year-old former UN worker whose parents are from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region; (3) Endo Naoko, a 47-year-old who runs a private after-school child-care center; and (4) Mukoyama Jun, a 38-year-old former member of the Independent Investigation Commission on the Japanese Government’s Response to COVID-19. They are all talented women with diverse backgrounds. It seems the addition of the four women allowed Motegi to fulfill his promise to have women account for 30% of all proportional representation candidates.


But an experienced Diet member says with a wry smile: “The party headquarters can easily manage proportional representation candidates at its own discretion. The plan [to have women account for 30% of all proportional-representation candidates] is typical of Motegi, who is a rationalist. But the plan is not well thought of within the party. ”


He went on to say: “Motegi doesn’t seem willing to fully support the women despite their being highly qualified. That means the women were simply employed to achieve the 30% figure and within the party are widely viewed as ‘sacrifices.’”


The aforementioned political reporter says: “I don’t think the newcomers whose profiles are much lower than those of candidates who were TV personalities or influential candidates backed by specific industry groups and organizations can readily collect 100,000 votes, which is said to be the victory line. The LDP projects it will be able to win at least 18 or 19 seats in the upcoming election as it did in the previous election. But I have to say it will be extremely difficult for the four women to be elected.”


In fact, there are no visible party-wide efforts to support any of the four women. A former cabinet minister says, “Every intra-party faction is tied up supporting its own candidates.”


The aforementioned political reporter says: “Public Relations Headquarters Chairperson Kono Taro seems to be the only person who is energetically giving support. He looks after Eri Arfiya, who also graduated from the Georgetown University in the U.S. as Kono did, as if she were under his wing and is actively providing indirect support by spreading her messages on social networking sites (SNS), which he is good at.”


The reporter also said: “In a press conference to declare their candidacies, the four women except Arisato clearly said they “agree with the use of dual surnames.” But the LDP  remains cautious about the introduction of a dual surname system for married couples. Motegi and Election Strategy Committee Chairperson Endo Toshiaki, who also attended the press conference, were dumbstruck by the ill-considered remark.


The election strategy committee chairperson should give the four female candidates a lecture on policies rather than support their election campaigns.



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