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Vote on Japan politicians' most sexist remarks in 2019 opens with nods for Abe, Aso

Taro Aso, the minister of finance and deputy prime minister who also "won" the public poll for the most sexist remark by a Japanese politician in 2018, is seen at the National Diet on June 18, 2019. Aso is once again on the ballot for 2019. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- Online voting opened on Dec. 30 for a poll to decide the most sexist public remarks made by a Japanese politician in 2019, with the public able to choose from among eight offending statements and the pols who uttered them.

The vote, which started in 2017 and is now in its third edition, is run by NO to all sexist public speeches (NOASEPS), a civil group whose members include Mari Miura, a professor of politics at Tokyo's Sophia University.

Last year 2,026 people took part to crown Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso with the dubious honor for a number of public utterances. These included a series of remarks over sexual harassment by a top finance ministry bureaucrat, in which Aso asked whether the perpetrator had no human rights, and another comment in which he said it would be better if all journalists dispatched to the Finance Ministry were men.

The eight candidates for 2019, and the remarks that got them picked, are listed below.

Katsuei Hirasawa, member of the House of Representatives. "Same-sex marriage of a man to a man, a marriage of a woman to a woman. It's fine, because if you criticize it, it becomes a big problem. So of course it's fine. But I will say, if we all ended up like these people the country would be finished." Said on Jan. 3, 2019 at a gathering in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Taro Aso, minister of finance. "(The increase in Japan's life expectancy) is a good thing isn't it? It's great. There are many strange people who say all these people getting older is a bad thing, but they're mistaken. The real problem is those who are not having children." Said on Feb. 3, at a public policy report meeting in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, member of the House of Representatives. "Say to your kids and grandkids, please, ask them to have at least three children." Said on May 29, at a meeting in Chiba Prefecture.

Teruhiko Mashiko, member of the House of Councillors. Among the remarks he gave while speaking about a female candidate for the House of Councillors election in July: "As you can see she's no beauty, but she is very charming." Said on July 19 at an election rally in Fukushima Prefecture.

Tomomi Inada, member of the House of Representatives, referring to her colleague Masako Mori, who is a member of the House of Councillors. "The thing that myself and Ms. Mori have in common is we're two beautiful women," and, "As long as Ms. Mori is there, it feels glamorous." Said in mid-April, at a gathering in Fukushima Prefecture.

Norio Mitsuya, member of the House of Representatives. "What has Yumi Yoshikawa (a member of the House of Councillors) done in these last six years? Her greatest achievement has been to have a child." Said on July 12, during an election rally in Mie Prefecture.

Koichi Hagiuda, member of the House of Representatives, speaking about the above remarks by Norio Mitsuya: "What he meant was that he wanted people to support her as a candidate who had become a mother, and a bigger candidate in one way," and, "It got the greatest applause from the audience." Said on July 14, to a group of reporters in Tokyo.

Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan. "Fathers, invite your lovers, and mothers, find an old flame, and please bring them with you to the ballot box." Said on July 16, at an election rally in Niigata Prefecture.

The deadline to vote is Jan. 9, 2020, with the results set to be announced two days later. Each person can cast up to two votes. Further information on the candidates' utterances, and the form to vote, can be found on the group's website (https://yurusanai-seisabetsuhatsugen.jimdo.com/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NOASEPS). Both Japanese language only.

(Japanese original by Satoko Nakagawa, Integrated Digital News Center)

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