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Japan's Ruling Party: Women Can Look, But Not Talk, at Meetings

Attempt to address sexism backfires
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2021 12:43 AM CST

(Newser) – Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has proposed allowing more women to attend its male-dominated meetings—but it doesn't want them to say anything. Toshihiro Nikai, the party's 82-year-old secretary general, said this week that five female lawmakers should be invited to observe the meetings in order to understand the decision-making process, but they should only submit opinions in writing afterward, reports Reuters. "Take a look, is what it is about," he said. The LDP has been in power for more than 60 of the last 66 years. Only two members of its 12-person board are women, and there are only three women on its 25-member general council. In Japan's House of Representatives, the Shugiin, only 10% of members are women, the BBC reports.

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Commentators called Nikai's remarks sexist and tone deaf, CNN reports. Writer Mieko Kawakami said the remarks show that the party will never understand the concept of gender equality. "According to their views, men will take care of women as long as women don't threaten them and stay in their lane," she said. "Women are treated as second-class citizens forever here in Japan." Last week, the president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, former LDP prime minister Yoshiro Mori, agreed to step down after an outcry over sexist remarks. He said that if more women were allowed to join the board of directors, "we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat." (Read more Japan stories.)

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