Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apologised for the behaviour of a male assembly member who shouted sexist remarks at a Tokyo assemblywoman last week during a speech on supporting working women in Japan.
The apology was given to the male head of the woman’s party yesterday, Reuters reported.
Akihiro Suzuki, an assemblyman from the ruling LDP party, admitted to heckling female colleague Ayaka Shiomura, from the Your Party, during a speech in chambers urging for better support of pregnant women and working mothers in Japan.
Shiomura was outlining a number of issues women in Japan face with a lack of public support and also addressed the issue of infertility.
She was interrupted by Suzuki, who shouted, “You should get married!”
While she attempted to continue, another taunt was thrown out – “Can’t you even bear a child?” – which brought Shiomura to tears and caused her voice to break.
Suzuki has publicly apologised for the incident.
Shiomura accepted his apology but stated, “I’m positive that there were others besides Mr. Suzuki who made the comments”.
This incident has inflamed the debate over sexism in the Japanese workplace, where women are paid on average 30% less than men.
A study by the Centre of Work-Life Policy also found three quarters of Japanese women want to rejoin the workforce after having children, but only 43% are able to get their careers back on track.
A number of these issues have been outlined in the Prime Minister’s launch of “Womenomics” last year.