On Wednesday, Japan's parliament passed a law to encourage female candidates to stand for elections in a country where women are vastly underrepresented in politics.
According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made increasing female participation in the workforce a key plank of his economic policies as Japan struggles with a labour shortage. But only 47 of the 465 members of parliament’s lower house are women, a ratio of 10.1 percent that puts Japan behind Myanmar and Gambia in terms of female government representation.
“I hope this law will make a big change in Japanese politics,” said Internal Affairs Minister Seiko Noda, one of the members who drafted the legislation, according to public broadcaster NHK.
“I hope women who were hesitant to become candidates will be courageous” and run for election, she said.
Japan ranked bottom among G7 countries in the World Economic Forum’s latest “Global Gender Gap Report”, coming 114th worldwide.