TOKYO – Japan approved on Wednesday a legislation to promote women’s participation in politics, although the law is not binding and does not penalize violations.
The new law urges political parties to have an equal number of men and women in their ranks and set targets for gender equality, among other measures.
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to increase women’s representation to 30 percent in the general elections in 2020, just 13.7 percent, that is 97 of the 707 parliamentarians, in the bicameral Japanese legislature are women, according to the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Japan currently ranks 158 in representation of women in parliament, behind countries such as Myanmar and Gambia.
Only two of the 19 ministers in Abe’s cabinet are women – interior minister Seiko Noda and justice minister Yoko Kamikawa.
Noda hailed the new law and hoped it would help bring about a significant change in Japanese politics, according to local media reports.
Kamikawa said she hoped the law would help voters understand that politics is not just the domain of men, and urged more women to come forward to contest elections.
In April 2019, Japan will hold regional elections, and in July it will hold elections for the upper house of the parliament.
The Asian country ranked 114 out of 144 countries in World Economic Forum’s 2017 gender gap report.