Asia Minute: Sexism Still Rules Japanese Politics

Feb 18, 2021

Updated 2/18/21, 8:50 a.m.

Japan’s 2020 Olympics Committee has a new leader — a woman. Seiko Hashimoto is a seven-time Olympic Athlete who replaces a politician who resigned after making derogatory remarks about women. But that doesn’t end the controversy.


It’s been about a week since Yoshiro Mori stepped down as head of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee. The former prime minister came under widespread criticism when he said “women talk too much.”

The remarks were in a discussion of the board of the Olympic Committee, which has 24 members — including five women.

The 83-year old Mori was quoted as saying, “If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat.”

He added “We have about seven women at the organizing committee, but everyone understands their place.”

On Tuesday, the 82-year-old Secretary General of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party suggested five women lawmakers be allowed to observe the party’s board meetings.

Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reports the women would not be allowed to speak during the meetings, but could submit their opinions afterward.

The BBC reports only about 10% of Japan’s House of Representatives are women — compared to a global average of 25%.

The World Economic Forum ranks Japan 121st of 153 countries in its Global Gender Gap Index.

The director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch called Mori’s remarks “a verbal expression of national policy.”

Minky Worden told the Washington Post, “This is an active policy of excluding women from positions that they are qualified to occupy and frankly would do a better job than men.”