Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, on Sunday opened a political school in Gifu Prefecture to foster female politicians.

The school was set up in the city of Gifu, which she represents in the Diet’s all-important Lower House.

Noda, who intends to run in the LDP presidential election this autumn, is aiming to boost her presence as a candidate for first female leader of the party, and thus the country, by pledging to help more women play active roles.

“I’ll work on enabling next-generation women to cut short the path that I took with embarrassment and tears, and play their roles efficiently,” Noda said at the school’s opening ceremony.

About 70 people attended Sunday’s event, most of them Gifu residents. They included local assembly members, housewives and university students. The youngest was a 15-year-old high school student.

A total of six lectures will be given by August by a former bureaucrat and a business manager, among others.

This month, Noda is also slated to give lectures at meetings to be hosted by the women’s affairs divisions of the LDP’s chapters in Chiba and Yamagata prefectures.

Key for Noda in the upcoming LDP leadership election is whether she can obtain support from 20 lawmakers in her party, the minimum required to run in the race, and how many men will back her, political watchers said. Men account for about 90 percent of the LDP’s lawmakers.

Noda pulled out of the previous LDP election in September 2015 after she failed to obtain the 20-lawmaker minimum.

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