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    LDP seeks women Diet candidates; Osaka assemblywoman comes out

    Interesting, this:

    Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi upped the ante in his war against party rebels by instructing that priority be given to fielding female candidates in the Lower House election next month.

    The strategy started to take shape with a decision by ruling Liberal Democratic Party executives on Thursday to field Satsuki Katayama as its candidate in the Shizuoka No. 7 constituency. The seat is held by Minoru Kiuchi, 40, one of the party’s 37 rebel lawmakers who voted against Koizumi’s postal reform bills.

    What’s the reasoning, I wonder? Are LDP strategists trying to get out the housewife/single woman vote? Do they just feel that female talent hasn’t been sufficiently tapped and that this is a good opportunity to make a statement about the party’s values? Koizumi’s stated reason is this:

    Regarding the backing of female candidates, The Prime Minister told the press corps, “[The move is] because there are very few women members of the Diet. I want those who rise to be the most competent people possible.”

    Fair enough. I’m sure he means it. It seems likely that the strategy is also part of an effort to change the party’s image. Koizumi sees himself–and has pitched himself–as a revolutionary. More visible women in positions of power would help dispel the impression that the failure of the Japan Post privatization bill to pass means that the LDP is still under the control of well-connected old men who are tied to the old patronage system.

    *******

    Speaking of women politicians–the Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade 2005 was held here in Tokyo yesterday. I didn’t watch and, of course, it got next to zero news coverage as always. The Mainichi did report on it tangentially, though:

    The Mainichi has learned that Osaka Prefectural Assemblywoman Kanako Otsuji (30) plans to participate in the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Pride Parade on 13 August, coming out in public as a homosexual herself. Her autobiography is also to be published soon. It is extremely rare for sitting elected officials to come out in public as homosexual. Assemblywoman Otsuji stated, “Because of discrimination and prejudice, gays frequently haven’t made themselves known. I hope that, by making myself visible as gay, I can throw the issue into relief and put and end to the vicious cycle of discrimination and prejudice.”

    I assume Otsuji made the announcement yesterday; no one was talking about the parade when I went out last night, but as I say, it isn’t really an attention getter. More power to her. The image of gays in the Japanese media is very much on the freakishly-funny end of the spectrum. If Otsuji is able to be charmingly ordinary and gets a reasonable amount of coverage for her book, she could do a lot of good.

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