Women want a bigger voice in government

03/17/2013
By

Japan has a poor record when it comes to women’s rights, ranking 101 out of 135 according to some statistics. A new political party founded as the result of a Facebook message is looking to change that, and to improve the lot of other disadvantaged groups as well as that of women in Japan.

TOKYO (majirox news) — A new Japanese political party started as the result of a single Facebook comment held there first press conference in Tokyo. It already has more than 2,000 members, and the numbers are still rising. The All-Japan Obachan Party is aiming to change the role of women in politics and in everyday life.

“The members of both parties are almost all men wearing dark grey suits and discussing sensitive diplomatic problems concerning Senkaku Islands or changing the constitution of Japan without women’s opinions,” said Tomoko Satome, a doctor at Shiomidai Hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture, at a recent press conference in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claims that he wants to increase the role of women in Japanese society. The new party points to his cabinet, which contains only two women, and disputes his claim.

“But it is a very gender biased society made by a male dominant society,” Satome said. “Our situation is the same as the 1960s when I was born so we must act it change it, from the bottom to top, the top to bottom.”

According to the World Economic Forum, Japan fares badly when compared to other nations in terms of gender equality rated 101 out of 135. The new party wants to redress this: better rights, job opportunities, equal pay, and adequate levels of child care for women wanting to work.

Hiroko Inokuma, an associate professor at Tokyo City University, said at the press conference, “I’m really surprised seeing women talk about politics, they spoke out and messaged about it. I believe this is the first time, and our activities brought this out wider and wider, and men can’t avoid our opinions in the future.”

The All-Japan Obachan Party fears that the traditionally minded ruling Liberal Democratic Party will promote old-style cultural values where women stay at home, stay quiet, and men work.

Hiromi Taguchi, a 26-year-old secretary, said, “Japanese women need to participate in politics. We are way too quiet, and need to speak out on all of our country’s problems and policies, not just gender issues.”

In addition to campaigning for women’s rights, the members of the party wish to draw attention to other groups within Japanese society that they see as being disadvantaged.

This new party has helped to raise women’s issues in the country. However, what they really want, they say, is more representation in government and in the prime minister’s cabinet.

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