On April 10, 2016, an event was held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of women's suffrage in Japan. The "Declaration on Double the Number of Women Legislators " adopted during that event gave rise to the "Parité Declaration," a statement of resolution that is adopted annually at the commemorative event organized by the Parité Campaign Executive Committee. The declaration reaffirms our commitment each year leading up to the 80th anniversary in 2026 to expand the network of individuals dedicated to earnestly increasing the representation of female Diet members.
In this year, 2023, the 77th anniversary of women's suffrage, we have adopted the following declaration.
THE PARITÉ DECLARATION 2023
We, the participants of the Women's Suffrage Commemorative Event "Don't Abstain, Women - We Have the Power to Change Tomorrow," recognize the importance of equal participation of men and women in all decision-making bodies, on this day, April 10, 2023, 77 years after April 10, 1946, when Japanese women first exercised their right to vote. We hereby issue the Parité Declaration..
Full and equal political participation of women and men strengthens democracy, contributes to the eradication of gender discrimination, violence, and poverty, and leads Japan towards a prosperous, tolerant, diverse, and peaceful society based on individual dignity.
On our 70th anniversary in 2016, we resolved to double the number of women legislators within ten years. Two years later, in 2018, the "Act on Promotion of Gender Equality in the Political Field," which we strongly advocated for, was enacted. The basic principle states that political parties should strive for an equal number of men and women candidates. This marked the birth of Japan's version of the Parité Law. Furthermore, in 2021, the law was significantly revised to include measures against harassment.
Despite these advancements, we are far from achieving our goal of doubling the number of women legislators. The general election of 2021 resulted in a shocking decrease of two female legislators, rather than an increase. Fortunately, in the 2022 House of Councillors election, more political parties set numerical targets, resulting in the highest number of elected women legislators in history and bringing the percentage of women in the House of Councillors to 26%, catching up with the global average.
This year's local elections have witnessed a general increase in the number of female candidates, with more women prominently running for the position of head of government. Compared to four years ago, civil society is more active in supporting young female candidates, calling for election volunteers, and promoting the political participation of young people. However, these activities are mainly concentrated in urban areas, and while the number of female candidates is increasing in such areas, it has decreased in some councils.
Approximately 40% of local assemblies are "zero-one" assemblies with zero or only one woman. In response to the widening regional disparities, efforts must be made in accordance with the realities of each region.
Not only are there few women in local councils, but there is also a serious shortage of qualified candidates, and an increasing number of council members are being elected without a vote. Voter interest is low, and voter turnout is lower compared to national elections. However, local governments are responsible for all matters closely related to our daily lives. Without revitalizing local assemblies, our lives will not improve.
This year's theme, "Don't Abstain from Voting, Women," was written by Fusae Ichikawa in November 1945, as the right to women's suffrage was on the horizon. How does Ms. Ichikawa feel about the current situation in which many voters do not exercise the right to suffrage that they have worked so hard to obtain?
Especially in these days when security policies are undergoing significant changes and Japan's role as a peaceful nation since the end of World War II is being drastically altered, it is even more important for women to vote.
We must seize every opportunity to participate in politics, express our opinions, and break through the status quo. We have the power to change politics. First and foremost, let us vote, express our will, and continue to take action to raise our voice after the elections. Let us further the growing trend of gender equality in society, promote the elimination of gender discrimination in the field of care, and work towards the realization of peace.
We will do everything we can in our respective positions to double the number of female legislators who will take up the voice of women. At the same time, we call on men to also actively engage in all actions for democratic development and gender equality.
Step by step, we will move forward to build a fair and peaceful society with full equality between men and women.
April 10, 2023
All participants of the Women's Suffrage Commemorative Event “Don’t Abstain Women - We Have the Power to Change Tomorrow”
Translated by Ayako Hatano