TOKYO Kyodo Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has selected just two women for a total of 19 ministerial positions in a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday, highlighting Japan's slow progress in fulfilling gender parity.
Sanae Takaichi, 61, was named Minister for Economic Security, and Keiko Nagaoka, 68, secured her first Cabinet post as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
The number fell short of the record five women selected under former prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe, and was down from the three chosen by Kishida when he took office in the fall of last year.
The number of women in Kishida's cabinet fell to two this spring after the exit of then vaccine minister Noriko Horiuchi.
According to a report released last month by the World Economic Forum, Japan ranked 116th among 146 countries in the gender gap rankings, at the bottom of the East Asia and Pacific Group, as well as the Group of Seven major economies.
It was lower down the ladder at 139th place in politics.
In countries such as Canada and France, female lawmakers comprise half or more cabinet members, while women are increasingly taking up the mantle of presidents and prime ministers.
In one notable case, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the U.N. General Assembly in 2018 with her then three-month old daughter.
Yuki Tsuji, professor of political science at Tokai University, said it was a shame that only two women were chosen for the revamped Cabinet from the viewpoint of reflecting different voices of the public in policy.
Tsuji said Takaichi and Nagaoka took up positions that can make use of their expertise and experience, but pointed out the need to appoint younger lawmakers to ministerial posts as a way of increasing the pool of female prime ministerial candidates.