National / Social Issues

Kumamoto assembly woman slapped with official warning for bringing baby to work

Kyodo

Kumamoto city assembly decided Wednesday to issue a written warning to a lawmaker who caused a stir last week by bringing her 7-month-old baby to the assembly hall, saying it was a breach of rules.

Yuka Ogata, 42, apologized for causing a delay to the Nov. 22. session. She had earlier claimed that she brought her son with her in the hope that the body would become friendlier for women who are trying to juggle careers and children.

Following an argument over the baby’s presence, the session began about 40 minutes late. Ogata eventually left her son with a friend before attending the meeting.

Ogata said she has been asking the assembly office for permission to bring her baby to a meeting since she became pregnant last year. But after not receiving the proper confirmation, she decided to take her son with her.

City rules state that anyone who is not an assembly member is deemed an observer and cannot enter the assembly floor during a session.

At the assembly’s steering committee session on Wednesday, one participant commented that a lawmaker who is in a position to create rules should not violate assembly rules.

Keiko Ota, a lawyer who started a group where women talk about politics, said it is still difficult for women to have both a career and children in Japan, adding that such lawmaking bodies “bear a responsibility to actively create an environment in which women can manage both.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been trying to improve conditions for working women, especially after childbirth. But Japan still ranks 114th out of 144 countries, one of the worst among industrialized nations, according to a report on global gender gaps released this month by the World Economic Forum.