The Yomiuri Shimbun A total of 104 women are running in the House of Councillors election, for which campaigning officially kicked off Thursday, eight more than in the previous upper house election in 2016.
The ratio of female candidates to the total number of candidates has reached a record high of 28.1 percent, surpassing the previous record high of 27.6 percent in the 2001 election.
The law on promotion of gender equality in the political field, which came into force last year, helped promote women’s political participation.
By political party, the Japanese Communist Party is fielding the largest number of female candidates at 22 (55 percent of the party’s candidates), followed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan at 19 (45.2 percent), the Liberal Democratic Party at 12 (14.6 percent) and the Democratic Party for the People at 10 (35.7 percent).
Opposition parties have a higher ratio of female candidates than the ruling parties. Since opposition parties have only a small number of incumbent candidates, they were apparently able to actively field female candidates.
The law obliges political parties and other organizations to make efforts to set a target ratio of female candidates. While this requirement is not legally binding, both ruling and opposition parties include the promotion of women’s political participation in their respective campaign promises, which led to the increase in the number of female candidates in the latest upper house election.
While the government set in its basic plan for gender equality a goal of increasing the ratio of female candidates in both House of Representatives and upper house elections to 30 percent by 2020, that goal failed to be reached in the latest election.
The ratio of female candidates in an upper house election exceeded 20 percent for the first time in 1989 when the Japan Socialist Party, led by female leader Takako Doi, created the “Madonna boom,” and has been increasing since then.
However, the ratio of female lawmakers has failed to increase, because of the lack of success among female candidates despite the increasing number of such candidates. One reason for this might be that many female candidates are members of opposition parties. Since 1983, the winning rate of women in upper house elections has been lower than that of men.
Compared to overseas countries, Japan’s ratio of female legislators is low.
According to the Cabinet Office, a survey on the ratio of female legislators as of December 2018 revealed that Japan’s upper house ranked 15th out of 19 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member states which have an upper chamber.
Before the start of the upper house election campaign, women accounted for 20.9 percent of total upper house members, the highest ratio in postwar Japan. All eyes will be on whether the ratio will increase or not after the ongoing election.Speech