Two women are in contention to become prime minister of Japan for the first time in its history — a potential turning point for a country that ranks below Saudi Arabia in terms of female political representation.

Victory for either Seiko Noda and Sanae Takaichi, both former internal affairs ministers in their 60s, in a Sept. 29 vote for leader of the ruling party would mean Japan sees its first female prime minister. Even having women make up half the ballot of four candidates is a step forward for diversity in the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, whose president is virtually assured of becoming prime minister due to its dominance in parliament.

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