In response to criticism that the board of Japan’s ruling party is male-dominated, the organisation has said it wants women to attend key meetings – but only if they do not talk.
The Liberal Democratic Party has proposed a new plan allowing five female politicians to join the party’s key meetings as observers.
Toshihiro Nikai, the party’s 82-year-old secretary general, said on Tuesday that he had heard criticism that the party’s board is overwhelmingly male.
He added that it is important for the party’s female members to “look” at the party’s decision making process. But the female observers cannot speak during the meetings, the daily newspaper Nikkei reported, and instead can submit opinions separately to the secretariat office.
“It is important to fully understand what kind of discussions are happening. Take a look, is what it is about,” Mr Nikai said at a news conference late on Tuesday.
It comes after the Tokyo Olympics chief sparked a sexism row by saying women talked too much at meetings.
Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organising committee, was forced to resign resigned last week after he made derogatory comments about women speaking too much at meetings, claiming it made them too long.
The 83-year-old former prime minister’s remarks are one of several examples showing how deep-rooted sexism is in Japanese society.
Similarly, Kengo Sakurada, the head of a powerful Japanese business lobby, posted on social media saying Japan’s glass ceiling was “partly women’s fault”.
The Asian nation is ranked 121 out of 154 countries on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index – the worst ranking among advanced countries – scoring poorly on women’s economic participation and political empowerment.
Earlier this week, a group of female politicians asked Mr Nikai to increase the ratio of women in key posts in the party.
But requiring female observers to remain quiet at meetings has drawn criticism, with opposition politicians mocking it as a “field trap” and Twitter users saying the party’s male-centric view has not changed since the Mori controversy.
Additional reporting by Reuters