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After Olympic sexism row, Japan's ruling party tells women they can attend meetings...if they keep quiet

After Olympic sexism row, Japan's ruling party tells women they can attend meetings...if they keep quiet
Women can attend top-level Japanese government meetings as long as they keep their mouths shut, the country's ruling party has said, just days after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief stepped down from his role over similar comments.

Toshihiro Nikai, the Liberal Democratic Party's 82-year-old secretary general announced on Tuesday that five female lawmakers will be allowed to sit in on board meetings, which are usually only attended by men.

However the female observers are banned from talking during the meetings and may only submit opinions to the secretariat office after lawmakers have gathered.

“It is important to fully understand what kind of discussions are happening. Take a look, is what it is about,” Nikai told a news conference on Tuesday, as he stressed that board members are elected.

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Earlier a group of female MPs asked Nikai to increase the number of women given important roles within the party.

It comes after a huge sexism furore in Japan, created by Olympics President Yoshiro Mori, who complained about women “talking too much” and was forced to step down over his comments last week.

Mori resigned and apologized after furious backlash to several comments he made at the Olympic organizing committee, including that “women have a strong sense of rivalry” and all feel the need to join in the conversation if one speaks.

“Somebody told me that if we increase the number of women [on the board], we have to also restrict their speaking time to an extent. Otherwise they'll never stop, which is problematic,” he was also quoted as saying.

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Tokyo Olympics bosses are currently searching for a new female chief and are focusing on former speed skater and current Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto, according to daily Japanese newspaper Nikkei.

Japan is rated 121st out of the 153 countries on the World Economic Forum's 2020 Global Gender Gap Index – the lowest rank of any advanced country.

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