Positive Action for Women in Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party: A One-Off?

Emma Dalton

Abstract


This article examines Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) approach to the issue of female under-representation in the Japanese parliament (the Diet) by considering how former Prime Minister Koizumi’s successful bid to elect a large number of women to the Diet in 2005 fits into a broader discussion of the party’s general approach to gender equality. I consider the motivations behind the ‘positive action’ strategies that Koizumi adopted in the 2005 general election. These positive action strategies resulted in a historic increase in the number of women in the Diet, and a historic increase in LDP women specifically. They derived, however, more from Koizumi’s desire to uphold his reform image than his, or the party’s desire for a more gender-balanced Diet. By drawing on gender equality theories, this article demonstrates how the LDP’s insistence on ‘equal opportunity’ with regards to equality discourses in Japan makes future positive action for female LDP Diet representation unlikely. By drawing on interviews with female LDP Diet members, however, this article also reveals support from within the party for positive action to increase the number of women in the Diet, thus demonstrating some contradiction in the LDP about how to approach gender imbalance in the Diet.


Keywords


positive action, affirmative action, LDP, female political representation, gender equality

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