Two women, political opposites, vying in race for Japan PM

Tokyo, Sept. 27 (BUS): The inclusion of two women among the four candidates vying for the position of Japan’s next prime minister appears to be a major step forward for Japan’s notoriously sexist politics. But their fate is in the hands of a conservative, mostly male party – and the lead candidate has been criticized by observers for her right-wing gender policies.

Sana Takechi and Seiko Noda are the first two women in 13 years to seek leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Wednesday’s elections. The winner is almost certain to become the next prime minister due to the parliamentary majority held by the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the Associated Press reports.

While both are members of the Liberal Democratic Party, they are politically opposite in many ways. Hard-line conservative Takeshi advocates a kind of patriarchal nationalism and a stronger military, while the pacifist, liberal-leaning Noda supports the progress and diversity of women.

“As small minorities in Japanese politics, women’s options for survival and success are limited; they can stand up to boys’ club politics or they can be loyal to them,” said Mayumi Taniguchi, an expert on women’s roles in society and politics at Osaka University of the Arts.

Taniguchi said it’s clear that Takaishi chose loyalty while Noda appears to be operating outside the mainstream but without a confrontation. “They are completely different.”

In the race to choose a successor to outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the women compete against Vaccination Minister Taro Kono and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Kono and Kishida are two of the best candidates; Both are from well-known political families and belong to powerful party factions.

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But some view Takaishi as a fast-rising candidate, with the decisive backing of former leader Shinzo Abe, whose conservative vision supports him. The latest media polls of party lawmakers show it has begun to garner support from the party’s conservatives, while Noda remains in fourth place.

The only other previous candidate was Yuriko Koike, who is currently the governor of Tokyo, who ran as a candidate in 2008.

While neither Takaishi nor Noda is likely to become prime minister, the two women’s bid for a higher position is seen as an advance for the ruling party. But some experts have criticized Takeshi’s gender policies.

“She is more likely to not promote the advancement of women if she wins,” said Marie Miura, a professor of political science at Sophia University. “It will emphasize its achievement in breaking the glass ceiling and declare that Japan is indeed a gender equal country, even way ahead of the United States.”

Japan is ranked worst among the Group of Seven developed nations – ranking 120th in a survey of 156 countries for gender gap rankings at the World Economic Forum in 2021.

Women make up only about 10% of Japan’s parliament, and analysts say many of them tend to try to advance by showing loyalty to the party rather than striving for gender equality.

Miura said Takaishi supported issues of women’s health and fertility, in line with the LDP’s policy of having women serve in their traditional roles as mothers and good wives, but was unlikely to promote women’s rights or sexual diversity.

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Takaishi, 60, was first elected to parliament in 1993 and Margaret Thatcher is her role model. She has served in key party and government positions, including Ministers of Home Affairs and Gender Equality.

A heavy metal drummer and motorcyclist when she was a student, she supports the imperial family’s male-only succession, opposes same-sex marriage and a revision of the 19th century civil code that could allow women to keep their virgins. Noun.

Analyst Taniguchi says Takaichi’s support for the majority of the party is “unfortunate because her success may make many women believe that speaking and acting on behalf of men is the way to success in this country.”

Takechi, who shares Abe’s revisionist views on Japan’s wartime atrocities, regularly visits the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among the war dead and is considered by China and the two Koreas as evidence of Japan’s unrepentance.

Its security policies include developing a preemptive strike capability to counter threats from China and North Korea.

Political observers say Abe’s support for Takechi came in part because he recognizes the need to improve the party’s sexual image, as well as to divert votes from Kono, the current leader who is considered something of a dissident.

Abe encouraged the advancement of women, but his party made little progress and failed to meet the goal of making women 30% of decision-making positions by 2020, putting it off a decade.

Miura, the professor, said that having a leader prioritizing loyalty to men rather than fighting for the advancement of other women, such as Takeshi, could interfere with efforts to eliminate gender gaps.

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While Noda would push for more equality and diversity, conservatives are likely to oppose her gender policy.

In her recent campaign speech, she said that Japan’s rapidly shrinking population poses a serious national security risk because Japan will not have enough troops or police in the coming decades.


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