TOKYO: Nearly 60 percent of female local assembly members in Japan have experienced harassment by voters or colleagues, nearly twice the figure for men, a Cabinet Office survey has shown.
The proportion of local assembly members who said they have experienced harassment came to 57.6 percent for women, against 32.5 percent for men, according to the government agency’s first survey on obstacles to women’s participation in politics.
The survey was carried out between Dec. 25 last year and Jan. 31 this year with 10,100 male and female local assembly members, of whom 5,513 gave valid answers. The survey results were released Wednesday.
With multiple answers allowed, 26.8 percent of female respondents said they have been harassed with sexual or violent words, far higher than 0.7 percent for men.
Also in the survey, 23.9 percent of female respondents said they have been harassed with sexist behavior or remarks. Online harassment was cited by 22.9 percent.
Asked about problems that need to be resolved to promote women’s participation in politics, 58.8 percent of female respondents, the largest proportion, chose lack of expertise and experience.
Problems cited by 30-40 percent included insufficient privacy protection, gender discrimination and sexual harassment, the balance with family life, and a perception that politics is a job for men.
Among male respondents, lack of expertise and experience was the most cited problem blocking female participation in politics, at 41.8 percent. It was followed by financial shortages at 41.5 percent and difficulty in sustaining livelihoods at 38.3 percent.
Only 2.2 percent chose gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
“It’s necessary to hold seminars for harassment prevention at local assemblies and prepare rules allowing female assembly members to take maternity leave,” said an official of the Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office.