WASHINGTON – A ranking member of the Liberal Democratic Party expressed her hopes on Monday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will move to appoint more women if he opts to reshuffle his Cabinet this summer.
“I think he will accelerate (the appointment of female Cabinet member),” said Seiko Noda, chairwoman of the LDP’s General Council. “His support ratings would go down otherwise.”
Noda is currently in Washington to attend a White House-hosted event on how better to empower women and help families with working parents.
Successive Cabinets have generally had only a few women among nearly 20 members, drawing domestic and international flak over the gender imbalance.
The Cabinet currently has two female members among its 19 members.
Noda’s General Council is a top decision-making panel in the ruling party.
She blasted a member of her party in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly who admitted to heckling an assemblywoman with sexist remarks.
“Let me say this as a woman, for the record: No one should dare say such things. It’s common sense,” Noda said. “I want men to become more mature.”
She also said the incident helped raise awareness of the “big gap” between the views of assemblyman Akihiro Suzuki and those of society at large over issues related to gender equality.
Noda hoped the sharp reaction not only by the public but the LDP leadership to Suzuki’s heckling of a female assembly member will “deter” anybody from doing likewise, she said.
Suzuki admitted having said to Ayaka Shiomura, “You should get married first” when she was asking questions during a recent assembly session about issues such as how to help women give birth to children and raise them.