FOCUS: Again, no female contenders in Japan’s leadership race

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At a time when female leaders around the world are winning plaudits for their coronavirus responses, Japan’s ruling party will hold a leadership election without a single female contender, with its male-led factions appearing to hinder their rise.
The Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election next Monday, which effectively decides the country’s next prime minister, is a contest between three men — Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, 71, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, 63, and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, 63.

(From L) Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Fumio Kishida, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba — the three LDP presidential candidates — attend a joint press conference in Tokyo on Sept. 8, 2020. The ruling party will choose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s successor as party chief in a Sept. 14 election. (Kyodo)

All three have spoken of promoting female participation in Japanese society, as did outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself. But efforts hitherto have done little to break the “glass ceiling,” with the World Economic Forum ranking Japan 121st in gender equality among 153 countries surveyed last year and in last place among major advanced economies.
Elsewhere, female leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and …

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