A handful of articles focusing on issues of gender equality that you may have missed in the JT:
- The government failed to include a commitment to allowing married couples to use different surnames in its basic gender equality promotion policy approved last month. Sensing deep division within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on the issue, the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is urging reform-minded LDP members to work with it to change the law regardless.
- In a small consolation, the government will ease requirements for people to have their birth names or other given names included on passports from April. Many people face obstacles in their daily lives due to the Civil Code requirement for a married couple to share a surname, and conventionally the burden has fallen on women to change their names after marriage.
- A councilwoman who was ousted from the town assembly in a famous Japanese hot springs resort area after accusing the mayor of sexual assault says her case highlights the problems of male-dominated small-town politics, in which women are often silenced. It is extremely rare for victims of sexual assault to go public in Japan.
- Japan’s road to gender parity is rocky and potholed, writes Michael Hoffman. In a recent Big in Japan column, he recounts a variety of stories collected by Aera magazine chronicling the stumbling, faltering journey, with both women and men frustrated by gender stereotyping even today, 35 years after the introduction of Japan’s Equal Employment Opportunity Law.
- In Germany, Armin Laschet won a vote to become the new leader of the ruling CDU on Saturday, but his victory has thrown wide open the question of which man will succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor. Like Japan today, Germany before Merkel had never had a female at the helm. And for Japan’s ambitious female politicians, Merkel’s approach to climbing the political ladder by not focusing on gender is instructive, argues Shihoko Goto in a commentary.