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When anti-nuclear activist Junko Isogai ran for office in Niigata, her campaign had an awkward dimension: not just speeches and chats with constituents, but efforts to entertain potential backers.

“I was asked to pour sake, make flattering conversation and act in a way men wouldn’t dislike,” Isogai, 45, a mother of two teenage girls, said. “It was like being a bar hostess.”

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