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Norwegian foreign minister supports '#MeToo' movement's spread in Japan

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Soreide is pictured here at the Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo's Minato Ward, on May 10, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The worldwide "#MeToo" movement, which calls for the eradication of sexual harassment and has shown signs of spreading in Japan, is a "very good" development, Norway's first female foreign minister has told The Mainichi.

    "I think that many women (have been) subject to harassment and bad behavior for many years," 42-year-old Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide told The Mainichi in Tokyo, where she gave a lecture on May 10.

    Eriksen Soreide said she feels that the movement, in just a few months, has greatly changed how women are treated and how society reacts to poor treatment of women, and hopes it results in lasting change in countries around the world.

    In Japan, an incident of alleged sexual harassment by the Finance Ministry's then top bureaucrat sparked protests calling for awareness about and the eradication of sexual harassment.

    Eriksen Soreide suggested that gender equality can be more difficult to achieve in some societies than others due to cultural or other reasons, even though gender equality is stipulated in legislation. "We have to constantly work on this," she said.

    One of the keys to eliminating discrimination against women is the establishment and enhancement of social institutions that support women, Eriksen Soreide emphasized.

    The foreign minister explained that Norway has poured efforts into instituting a social system that allows women to place their children in the care of others and engage in full-time work. She explained that a "very equal system in most homes," in which men and women take equal parts in child-rearing and household chores, makes it possible for both parents to work full time.

    According to Eriksen Soreide, about 50 percent of national government officials and parliament members in Norway are women.

    (By Richi Tanaka, Staff Writer)

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