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Japan fell to rank 163rd out of 193 nations for female representation in parliaments in 2016

Kyodo

Japan ranked 163rd among 193 countries in representation of women in national parliaments in 2016, falling from 156th among 191 countries in the previous year, data by an international organization for enhancing parliamentary dialogue released Tuesday showed.

Among the Group of Seven advanced industrial nations, Japan ranked dead last, trailing countries like Germany at 23rd, Canada at 62nd and the United States at 104th, according to the data by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which compared the proportion of women in lower or single houses.

By country, Rwanda topped the list with women occupying 49 of 80 seats, followed by Bolivia with 69 of 130 seats and Cuba with 299 of 612 seats.

Meanwhile, the union’s report, “Women in Parliament in 2016: The year in review,” released the same day ahead of International Women’s Day on Wednesday, revealed that the worldwide average of women in national parliaments rose to 23.3 percent by the end of 2016 from 22.6 percent in 2015, as well as a 6.5 percentage point gain over the last decade.

In December 2006, women accounted for 16.8 percent of parliamentary seats in the world, according to the report.

But the report also pointed out that the rate of progress has stabilized recently, stressing the necessity of tireless efforts to realize gender balance in the field of politics.

“We must seize the opportunity to build on the successes of recent years because hard-won progress can often be fragile and readily lost, particularly at a time when engaging in politics has become even more challenging,” said Martin Chungong, secretary-general of the parliamentary union.

Touching on the situation in Japan, the report said a record 28 women were elected to the House of Councilors in the July 2016 election and noted that Japan’s main opposition force, the Democratic Party, elected a woman as its leader and that Tokyo, at the local level, elected its first female governor in 2016.

Japanese women are fighting “a struggle against a relatively conservative society, with strongly entrenched gender roles,” it said.