• Kyodo

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Children under the age of 2 should be raised by women and the idea of men performing that role is an “unwelcome idea,” a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party says.

“We speak of cool ideas such as a gender-equal society and men’s child-rearing, but they are unwelcome ideas for children,” Koichi Hagiuda, the LDP’s executive acting secretary-general, said Sunday in a speech in Miyazaki.

“Children need an environment in which they can stay with their mothers,” Hagiuda, 54, added.

The remarks by Hagiuda, who represents Tokyo’s No. 24 constituency (Hachioji), appeared to clash with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy of getting more women to enter politics and other male-dominated fields. Abe is also trying make women a greater part of the workforce as the fast-graying population fuels a nationwide labor shortage.

Hagiuda’s comment also came on the heels of a controversy raised by fellow LDP politician Kanji Kato of Nagasaki, who recently said newlyweds should raise at least three children.

The remarks made by Kato, 72, drew fire from fellow lawmakers, with a woman from his own party terming them “sexual harassment.”

Hagiuda said that while firm data to back his assertion is hard to find, infants “must want moms, no matter how you look at it. I think it is a bit strange if they choose dads.”

He also said child-rearing should not be considered nonwork, adding that the country needs to “create a system to care for mothers who are engaged in the hard work called child-rearing.”

Japan’s political arena is overwhelmingly dominated by men. Women account for only 10.1 percent of the House of Representatives, leaving Japan in 158th place worldwide, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The Diet enacted a law earlier this month to promote women’s participation in politics.

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