Opposition Figureís Rise Could Pave Way for Female Leaders in Japan
TOKYO--Among democracies in the developed world, Japan has one of the worst records of putting women in positions of political power.
Yet if, as widely predicted, Renho Murata, a member of the upper house of parliament, prevails in a leadership contest Thursday and becomes the first woman to lead the opposition Democratic Party, she will be the third woman to assume a high-profile political post in Japan in less than two months.
In July, Tokyo elected its first female governor, Yuriko Koike, and last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed Japanís second female defense minister, Tomomi Inada. (Koike was the first.) Both are members of Abeís conservative party, the Liberal Democrats.
A victory by Murata, 48, a former model and television news announcer who has served in parliament for more than a decade, would hardly usher in an era of female dominance. Women still represent less than 15 percent of all seats in parliament, and Abe was forced to concede last year that his government would not achieve its goal of placing women in 30 percent of management roles by 2020.
Still, with three women in positions that could be steppingstones to the prime ministerís office, it would be a noteworthy moment for Japan, which is far behind nations like South Korea, Taiwan, Britain and Germany, which have elected female leaders, and the United States, which has its first female major party nominee for president.