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Empowerment of Women in Local Politics in Japan: How Parties Recruit Female Candidates in Legislative Election

Sun, June 26, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 115


In Japan, the presence of women officeholders in local assemblies has increased at all levels of local government, prefecture, city, Tokyo Special Ward, town and village, since the late 1980s. While the large-scale municipal mergers in the 2000s decreased the total number of legislators in local assemblies, the percentage of female legislators in those assemblies increased significantly. However, this paper also points out a few limitations with regards to female political participation. Firstly, the proportion of female legislators differs in different levels of local assemblies. The percentage of women legislators at the prefectural legislature is the lowest among all types of local legislatures. Secondly, in prefectural assemblies, the number of women officeholders of the major parties, LDP and DPJ increased dramatically in the Nation-wide Local Election since. In contrast, the overwhelming majority of women legislators in city, ward, town and village are Independents and members of the communist party and Komei. Why is the pattern of women’s participation in prefectural assemblies different from that in any other assemblies? Why did the number of female candidates who are affiliated with the two major political parties increase in prefectural assemblies? Taking this into consideration, this paper discusses recent characteristics and changes in women’s political participation in local assemblies by shedding light on the candidate recruitment of political parties.