Record number of women to contest Japan Upper House election

One small step for women . . . 

This Sunday’s Upper House election will be the first national election following the implementation of Japan’s gender parity law in 2018 and reports indicate that women make up a record 28% of the candidates. That being so, there is a stark contrast in the number of female candidates between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP); women make up 15% of the LDP candidates versus 45% for the CDP.

Familiar territory for Prime Minister Abe . . .

Given that Abe and the LDP are looking to strengthen their hold on power in the face of a weak opposition and a trend of decreasing voter turn out, the number of women in the upper house will not likely increase significantly. Rather, this election looks to be another test of confidence in the LDP with major campaign issues appearing to be the implementation of a 2% rise in consumption tax, potential pension shortages, and most recently the trade spat with South Korea.

Will Womenomics survive?

This election will also be a litmus test for Abe’s Womenomics agenda that aims to increase the role of women in the workplace and in politics. Japanese politics has historically been male dominated and the rise of women running for office has been slower compared to the other developed economies: women comprised less than 20% of the candidates in the 2017 lower house elections compared to 33% in the 2015 Canadian federal election.