Former female politicians and academic experts formed a group Wednesday to bolster the ranks of politically active women.

For its initial project, the Women’s Solidarity Foundation will provide a 500,000 yen grant to three individuals or groups working to participate in politics. “Japan has an extraordinarily small number of women in politics,” said Mariko Mitsui, vice president of the newly founded group. “We want to correct the situation.”

Only 5 percent of the politicians in Japan are women, Mitsui said, adding that about 60 percent of nearly 3,300 Japanese local governments are completely male. The respective percentage in the U.S. is 22 percent, and in Sweden it exceeds 30 percent. “It is dangerous not to have the voices of women reflected in politics just as the government is ready to decide on the details of bills like public nursing care insurance bills,” Mitsui said.

The foundation hopes to give one of the grants to an individual or group from a developing country with poor female representation. The deadline for applying for the grants is July 31. In addition to the grants, the foundation will also organize seminars on politics and English, disseminate its information on the Internet and offer telephone counseling services on politics.

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