HIGHLIGHTS:

  • · In 13 years the two candidates have been the first women contesting for the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party
  • · Sanae Takaichi is the leading candidate with good conservative support whereas Siko Noda, her opponent, lags back to the fourth position
  • · In light of the conservative and sexist politics of Japan, the possibility for a woman to become the next PM marks a major drift as regards social progress

Ahead of preparations for the next elections, Japan witnesses a historical scenario with Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda as the two leading women among the four contesters, racing for the post of the next prime minister. In a period of 13 years, they are the first women contesting for the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party. The winner will be the next PM because of the LDP’s majority with its coalition partner in the parliament.

However, the two contestants are controlled by a political party that is conservative and mostly male-dominated. Sanae Takaichi, who stands to be the leading candidate, has earlier been slammed for her gender policies which are right-winged. The 60-year-old has been advocating paternalistic nationalism and a mightier military, maintaining an ultra-conservative position.

Seiko Noda, her opponent, on the other hand, extends her support to the liberal policies, women’s advancement and sexual diversities. According to experts, Takaichi has been a loyalist while Noda has maintained her position outside the mainstream. “Any tiny minorities in Japanese politics, women have limited choices to survive and succeed; they can confront the boys’ club politics or they can be loyal to them,” observes Mayumi Taniguchi, a specialist on women’s role in society and politics at the Osaka University of Arts.

The two women are contesting against vaccinations minister Taro Kono and Fumio Kishida, the former Foreign Minister, in light of the departure of the present Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga from his chair. Sanae Takaichi receives her backing from the former leader Shinzo Abe and is greatly supported by her party conservatives as well. However, Noda ranks fourth in terms of position.

Japan’s politics has hitherto been immensely sexist with only 10 percent women representation in the parliament. As per the rankings of the World Economic Forum in 2021, the country has achieved the 120th position with regard to the gender gap. The involvement of two women in such a case marks a major drift from the ongoing scenario.

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