Just 10% of politicians in Japan’s House of Representatives are female, a gender imbalance that ranked the worst among G20 nations in new data released ahead of International Women’s Day.
Japan came 165th out of 193 countries listed in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) study. As of January 1, only 47 of Japan’s 463 lower house lawmakers were women – compared to a 24% global average and 19.6% average in Asia.
In Japan’s House of Councilors, or upper house, 50 of the 241 representatives – 20% – are women.
Rwanda topped the IPU list, with women representing 61% of lower house seats. France ranked 16th with 39.7% and the United States was 78th with 23.5%.
Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have no female political representatives, according to the list.
No gender quotas for female lawmakers
Women account for 51% of the Japanese population, according to World Bank data.
Facing an aging population, the government has tried to close the gender gap in the workforce with a policy dubbed “womenomics.”
Last year, a law was passed encouraging political parties to set targets for gender parity. However, there are no incentives or penalties for parties which fail to do so.
In the same year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed just one woman to his new cabinet – by claiming she had the “presence of two or three women,” according to local reports.
Room for improvement
At local level, women comprised 17.2% of large municipal assemblies and 14.9% of smaller city assemblies in December 2017. But they only made up 10.1% of prefectural assemblies and 9.9% of town and village assemblies, according to data from the Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office.
“Female politicians in Japan must battle against the commonplace view that politics belongs to men,” said Fujie Masahiro, a section leader at the Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office. “They also face barriers when it comes to juggling family and political life.”