Thursday, December 2, 2021

Japan’s ruling party wants more women at meetings, so long as they don’t talk

Its attempt to include women at meetings has generated a chorus of Twitter disapproval.

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A sexism row sparked by the Tokyo Olympics chief saying women talk too much at meetings, has resulted in Japan’s ruling party saying it wants women at key meetings – but only if they don’t talk.

Yoshiro Mori, the 83-year-old head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organising committee, resigned last week after his comments about women speaking too much and so making meetings drag on too long triggered a backlash at home and abroad.

Toshihiro Nikai, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s 82-year-old secretary general, said on Tuesday that he had listened to the criticism that the party’s board is male-dominated.

The party has now proposed a new plan that allows five female lawmakers to join key meetings as silent observers, the daily newspaper Nikkei reported.

Those female observers won’t be permitted to speak during the meetings, but will be allowed to submit opinions to the secretariat office.

Opposition lawmakers mocked the plan and Twitter users said the party’s male-centric view has obviously not changed.

The men “will just allow women as a kind of PR exercise”, Belinda Wheaton, a cultural sociologist at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, told Reuters.

“I think it’s probably time to be asking questions as to why it is that we feel that men in their 70s or 80s are able to fulfil these roles better than men in their 40s or 50s, or a woman,” she said.

Machiko Osawa, a professor at Tokyo Women’s University told Reuters, “I don’t think ruling politicians really get the issue about gender, its significance. Gender equality is very important but they take the issue lightly.”

Also outraging Twitter users were comments by Kengo Sakurada, head of a powerful Japanese business lobby, who said Japan’s glass ceiling was “partly women’s fault”.

Japan is ranked 121 out of 153 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index – the worst ranking  of an advanced country.

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