Record number of female candidates set to run in upper house elections

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe number of women planning to stand in this summer’s upper house elections makes it likely that a record-high ratio of female candidates will be fielded, possibly exceeding 30 percent.

A law to promote gender equality in politics went into force in May last year, partly aiming to make the number of male and female candidates as even as possible in elections.

With 124 seats up for grabs in the elections, 82 of the 273 people planning to run are women, according to research by The Yomiuri Shimbun as of Friday. Accounting for 30 percent of the total, this figure would exceed the past record of 27.6 percent in the 2001 House of Councillors elections.

Opposition parties especially have made efforts to field more female candidates. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan plans to field 17 women out of a total of 40 candidates, or 42.5 percent.

The party is planning a strategy of targeting female voters by fielding women mainly in populous electoral districts in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi and Osaka prefectures.

The Japanese Communist Party plans to field 17 women out of a total of 35 candidates or 48.6 percent. Nine women out of 25 candidates, or 36 percent, are set to run for the Democratic Party for the People. Nippon Ishin no Kai is set to field four women out of 18 candidates, or 22.2 percent. Four of the Social Democratic Party’s six candidates are expected to be women, accounting for 66.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the rate of female candidates from the ruling bloc is below 20 percent, with the Liberal Democratic Party planning to field 12 women out of 82 candidates, or 14.6 percent. Two of Komeito’s 13 candidates are women, both incumbents, accounting for 15.4 percent.

The number of female LDP candidates will likely match the figure that ran in the 2016 upper house elections. Komeito’s tally is set to decrease by one.

Opposition parties, which have fewer incumbents, plan to field more female candidates compared to the ruling bloc as it is easier for them to field new faces, according to observers.

“Because we have many male incumbents, we have no way of fielding more women,” an LDP member said.

The government set a target in the Basic Plan for Gender Equal Society of raising the ratio of female candidates in Diet elections to 30 percent by 2020.

A focus of the upcoming elections is whether the target will be reached for the first time and how the results will impact the current 20.9 percent ratio of upper house female members.Speech

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