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Women empowerment minister Noda criticizes alleged discrimination by Sugita, Tokyo Med. U

In this July 24, 2018 file photo, Minister in charge of Women's Empowerment Seiko Noda answers press questions after a Cabinet meeting, at the prime minister's office in Tokyo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Minister in charge of Women's Empowerment Seiko Noda on Aug. 3 criticized discriminatory comments made by fellow Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislators Mio Sugita and Tom Tanigawa about sexual minorities.

"Such comments that throw a wrench into the efforts being made by the government and by the party are not welcome," Noda stated at a news conference. "There are concerns that the remarks are discriminatory or prejudiced in nature."

Sugita, who was elected to the House of Representatives in the Chugoku proportional representation bloc, wrote in an article run in a monthly magazine that members of the LGBT community were not "productive" because they did not bear children. Tom Tanigawa, of the lower house Kinki proportional representation bloc, said on Twitter that homosexuality was "like a hobby."

Of Sugita's comments, Noda emphasized, "I do not think that using the word 'productive' is appropriate for speaking of human behavior."

On the same day, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) deputy head Akira Nagatsuma said, "(Sugita's and Tanigawa's) comments constitute discrimination and are completely unbecoming of members of the national legislature."

In addition, both Noda and Nagatsuma touched on the scandal involving Tokyo Medical University deducting entrance exam points from all female applicants and other measures to maintain a high percentage of male students.

"Admission screening that unfairly discriminates against women can absolutely not be accepted," Noda said. Nagatsuma also commented, "This issue will be taken up in the Diet as one of discrimination on the basis of sex."

Additionally, at an opposition party hearing also held on Aug. 3, Social Democratic Party (SDP) deputy head and House of Councillors member Mizuho Fukushima requested that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology open an investigation into whether other universities were also engaging in the same problematic selection practices.

(Japanese original by Shinya Hamanaka and Masahiro Tateno, Political News Department)

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