Tokyo’s female governor keeps winning: What it means for Japan’s male-dominated politics

Eight years ago, Yuriko Koike became the first woman to lead Tokyo, beating her male predecessor. She won her third term as governor July 7, and one of her closest rivals was a woman.

Multiple women competing for a top political office is still rare in Japan, which has a terrible global gender-equality ranking, but Ms. Koike’s win highlights a gradual rise in powerful female officials and a society more open to gender balance in politics. That said, even if a woman eventually becomes prime minister, politics here is still overwhelmingly dominated by men, and experts see a huge effort needed for equal representation.

“There are growing expectations for women to play a greater role in politics,” said parliamentarian Chinami Nishimura, a senior official with the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. “In politics or parliament, which are still largely considered men’s work, it is extremely meaningful for women to show their presence and have our voices heard.”

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