08 Sep 2023
Japan has a long lack of female lawmakers. According to the gender gap report released by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) in June, Japan’s ranking was the lowest ever, 125th out of 146 countries, especially in the political field, where it ranked 138th. In fact, if we look at the percentage of women in parliament: in the first postwar 1946 general election, the ratio of women in the House of Representatives (HR) was 8.4%, and in the most recent 2021 general election, it stood at 9.7%. There has been virtually no increase for around 70 years. Even in the most recent national election, the 2022 House of Councillors election, the ratio of women elected stood at 25.8%.
This paucity of female lawmakers caused many in Japan to recognize the need to introduce a quota system, leading to the passage and enactment of the Promotion of Gender Equality in the Political Field Act (政治分野男女共同参画推進法) in 2018. The law in principle urges political parties to make the number of male and female candidates at every level as equal as possible, and requires each party to make efforts to set numerical targets for male and female candidates. In response, both the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) and the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) succeeded in fielding more than fifty percent of female candidates for the 2022 Upper House election. Although it is still far from achieving the appropriate gender balance in politics, the legislation was meaningful in itself. However, we are a long way from realizing gender equality in the political field here in Japan, and we need efforts from various quarters to achieve this.
Among measures considered necessary to increase the proportion of women in parliament and in politics, this discussion paper touches upon lessons from Germany on the debate over party quotas and aims to serve as a reference during the current debate in Japan. Quota systems are a means of affirmative action, allocating posts to minorities with the aim of reducing inequality. The gender quota system in the political arena stipulates either the portion of women or of both genders, with the aim of redressing the gender gap in the legislature.
Author: Naoki Takiguchi, Kikyo Taguchi
著者 Naoki Takiguchi, Kikyo Taguchi
Project Lead: Naoki Takiguchi
プロジェクト担当 Naoki Takiguchi