Hosted by the Council of Foreign Relations, this year’s Tadashi Yamamoto Memorial Seminar featured a panel of four up-and-coming Diet members who discussed the difficulties they face in participating as women in the Japanese political context. Each one described the process by which they entered the political arena—some were recruited by the party, another was a doctor who was encouraged to run by a medical association, and another decided to take the plunge herself. They talked about the double-standards and challenges they face as women and the lessons they were learning through their meetings with counterparts and other experts in the United States.
Senior NHK journalist Aiko Doden also spoke, addressing the changes occurring in Japanese society and the need for further changes in order to make the work-life balance and family life healthier for all Japanese people, but particularly for women.
This year’s meeting was particularly meaningful because 2017 marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of Tadashi Yamamoto, the founder of JCIE and a strong, visionary presence in the field of US-Japan exchange for more than four decades. It also marked the 50th anniversary of the very first Shimoda Conference, a ground-breaking dialogue that paved the way for the establishment of JCIE and its long-running Parliamentary Exchange Program. Notably, however, there were no women participants in the Shimoda dialogue in 1967. And although JCIE has worked to include women in its political exchanges over the years, the 2017 delegation was the first ever all-woman parliamentary delegation to travel between Japan and the United States.
Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations & James Gannon, Executive Director, JCIE/USA
Panel Discussion: The Future of Women in Japanese Politics
Takae Ito, Member, House of Councillors (Democratic Party)
Takae Ito, Member, House of Councillors (Komeito)
Hanako Jimi, Member, House of Councillors (Liberal Democratic Party)
Toshiko Takeya, Member, House of Councillors (Komeito)
Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations (Moderator & Host)
Special Remarks: The Changing Roles of Women in Japanese Society
Aiko Doden, Senior Commentator on International Affairs, NHK Broadcasting; Special Affairs Commentator, NHK World
Introduced by: Hideko Katsumata, Executive Director & COO, JCIE/Japan