Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has to be given credit for talking a lot about the empowerment of women in government and the workforce. He has made very visible progress in appointing women not only to cabinet and top party posts but even pushing the bureacrats into accelerating the promotion of women among the ranks.
However, where it counts -- in the fostering of future women leaders -- Abe's "Womenomics" push has come up embarrassingly short of the rhetoric. In the 41 prefectural assembly races being held on April 12, the Liberal Democratic Party is supporting 1319 candidates. Only 48 of those 1319 candidates -- a miserable 3.6% -- are women.
Nationwide, 379 of 3273 (11.6%) of the candidates for prefectural assembly seats are women.
The percentages of women candidates for the other major parties:
Komeito 8.9% *
Japan Innovation Party 10.0%
Democratic Socialist Party 16.2%
Democratic Party of Japan 16.8%
Top ranking and applause goes to (no surprise here) the Japan Communist Party, with 46.5% of its candidate list being made up of women.
In terms of the prefectures, Hyogo is tops nationwide, with 26 women (20.2%) among the 129 candidates vying for seats in its assembly. On the other side of the ledger, Saga -- an LDP bastion -- has ONE woman among the 48 candidates vying for seats in its assembly.
Sources: Asahi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Kobe Shimbun
*A low number of women candidates is one of the recurring peculiarities of Komeito, both a manifestation of and in seeming contradiction to the immense power of the Married Women's Division inside the Soka Gakkai.