TOKYO -- Tomomi Inada, chief deputy secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and others launched a Diet members' group on March 15 seeking to create an environment for female party legislators to flourish in Japan's political arena.
The move apparently came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe advised Inada to create a group of allies. It is viewed by some as an attempt by Inada to cement a foothold within the party and regain power. Inada resigned as defense minister in 2017 following a scandal involving the cover-up of daily activity logs of Self-Defense Force members deployed in United Nations peacekeeping missions.
At the group's inaugural meeting held at LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Inada officially assumed the position of group co-representative.
"There is a perception that politics belongs to men. I would like to take tangible action together with everyone here," Inada said.
LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai expressed his support for the new group, saying, "We must make the LDP a political party that cherishes women more."
The group evolved from a 16-member female legislators' group called "16-kai," which comprised those who were first elected to the House of Representatives in the 2005 general election, including Inada. A total of 27 female lawmakers have joined the new body.
The new alliance will support women aspiring to stand in nationwide unified local elections this coming spring and put together proposals for boosting the number of female legislators.
A source close to the LDP commented, "Inada has received advice from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to create a group of allies. The launch of the legislators' group is part of that move."
Some within the LDP, however, raised questions about Inada' move, with one junior female legislator quipping, "I wonder why she has set up the lawmakers' group when the LDP already has the Women's Affairs Division."
Seiko Noda, chairperson of the lower house Budget Committee, did not join the legislators' group. As Noda seeks to succeed Abe as LDP president after his tenure expires, she is set to launch a school for women aspiring to become politicians on April 21.
(Japanese original by Nozomu Takeuchi, Political News Department)