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Japan ruling party bigwig eager to 'prioritize women' as candidates in upcoming election

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai is seen at the LDP's headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Feb. 9, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), expressed his intention at a March 15 press conference to prioritize fielding female candidates in an upcoming national election.

    Regarding official LDP candidates, Nikai said, "I'll tackle the issue while placing priority on women, at least while I'm secretary general," and indicated that he plans to actively push for women as proportional representation candidates in the next House of Representative election to be held by autumn 2022.

    Nikai also revealed his intention to request federations of LDP branches of each prefecture to further engage in gathering information regarding women aiming to join national politics. He denied the possibility of replacing incumbent legislators with new female candidates in single-seat constituencies, saying, "I'm not thinking of such an outrageous thing." He added, "I'm highly willing to welcome even more female lawmakers who think they are fit for proportional representation candidacies and other roles."

    Ahead of the press conference, Nikai held a meeting with female LDP lawmakers where they exchanged opinions on women's participation in politics. Seven female lower house members, including former vice education minister Keiko Nagaoka, attended the meeting, which was the first of a total of four scheduled sessions to be held among several members. Voices demanding women's further involvement in politics have been heightened within the LDP after former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori stepped down as Olympic organizing committee chief over sexist comments.

    (Japanese original by Minami Nomaguchi, Political News Department)

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