A handful of small Japanese cities have done what the rest of the country hasn’t: Elect women. Among city councils and assemblies as of 2021, men held more than 80% of the total seats. But in Ebetsu, more than 40% of council members are women; women hold 14 of 26 seats in Takarazuka; and there is an even split in Nisshin City. While these areas are a bright spot for a government that in 2018 passed a bill advocating for parties to put an effort into fielding an equal number of male and female candidates, women hold just 15% of seats in parliament and locally, make up just 14% of elected officials. In Ebetsu, two of the big political organizations have nominated many female candidates, and there is a long history of women in elected positions. Researchers argue for a quota system to increase the proportion of women at least in parliament, noting that in South Korea, women occupy 19% of national assembly seats, up from 6% in early 2000s, thanks to quotas.

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