National / Politics

DPJ takes aim at newly appointed female Cabinet members

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The Democratic Party of Japan appears to have identified the Cabinet’s three newly appointed female members as a weak point of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The DPJ’s new line of attack takes aim at the Justice Minister Midori Matsushima, minister in charge of female empowerment Haruko Arimura and Eriko Yamatani, chairman of National Public Safety Commission, and questions whether they have backgrounds that are suitable for the positions they hold.

During Tuesday’s Upper House Diet session, Matsushima was grilled by Renho, a DPJ lawmaker, over an alleged violation of the election campaign law.

The DPJ alleges that Matsushima distributed for free “uchiwa” (rigid paper fans), to participants of summer festivals in her constituency in Tokyo. This violated the election law, which prohibits a candidate from donating goods of certain value to voters, Renho said.

The website of Saitama Prefectural Election Management Committee declared that candidates may not distribute uchiwa to voters because the cheap item is in fact a “donation” of something with monetary value.

Matsushima insisted that what appeared to be a fan was actually a “leaflet” containing a report on her political activities.

But Matsushima added: “If you interpret this as uchiwa you can use it as uchiwa, too.”

The DPJ laid into her.

“(Matsushima) is someone serving as the justice minister, who oversees the judiciary. We think she is unqualified for the position,” Renho said. The DPJ has demanded that Matsushima resign.

Meanwhile Arimura was criticized for serving as vice chairman of a conservative women’s group that argued working mothers who place their children in day care nursery centers “have made this society savage and mentally poor.”

Arimura serves as the vice chairman of the Nippon Josei no Kai. On its official blog, the group has argued that mothers should stay at home with their children until they turn at least 3 years old, claiming that absent mothering damages the brain’s development.

Arimura insisted she does not represent the group’s ideology.

“Not all of the group’s arguments match my ideas,” she said during the Diet session.

She also said she has never criticized working mothers. Arimura herself has two children.

Meanwhile Yamatani, who oversees the National Police Agency, has been criticized in the past for posing for a photo with a leader of Zaitokukai, a hate-speech group that targets ethnic Koreans in Japan.

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