The Liberal Democratic Party is proposing to allow women parliamentarians to join key party meetings as observers, amid growing complaints of sexism.
After a row over sexism sparked by the head of the Tokyo Olympics who said women talk too much at meetings, the ruling Japanese party has said it wants women to attend key meetings – but only if they do not speak.
According to the new proposals, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will allow five women parliamentarians to join main party meetings as observers.
Toshihiro Nikai, the party’s general secretary, said on Tuesday he had heard criticism that the party’s board was dominated by men.
He noted that council members have been elected, but said it was important for women party members to “watch” the party’s decision-making process.
“It’s important to understand what kind of discussions are taking place. Take a look, that’s what it’s all about, ”Nikai said at a press conference Tuesday night.
Observers will not be allowed to speak during the meetings, but will be able to submit their opinions separately to the secretariat office, the Nikkei daily reported.
Yoshiro Mori, the head of the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, resigned last week amid outrage from around the world over the derogatory comments he made about the women, saying they were talking too much in meetings and made them too long.
The remarks by the 83-year-old former prime minister highlighted a deeply rooted sexism in Japanese society.
Japan is ranked 121st out of 153 countries according to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index – the worst among advanced countries – with a poor score in terms of women’s economic participation and political empowerment.
This week, a group of LDP women parliamentarians called on Nikai to increase the rate of women in key party positions.
But demanding that female observers at meetings remain silent has sparked criticism on social media that the party is out of touch.
Twitter users say the party’s male-centric view has not changed despite the Mori controversy.
“People are just going to put women on them as a kind of PR exercise,” Belinda Wheaton, cultural sociologist at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, told Reuters.
“I think it’s probably time to ask some questions about why we think men in their 70s or 80s are better able to fulfill these roles compared to a man in his 40s or 50s, or to a woman, ”she added.
Comments by a senior official to a business lobby group also circulated on social media, saying Japan’s glass ceiling was “partly the fault of women.”