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Tokyo Pols Censured for Sexist Jeers

  • VOA News

Ayaka Shiomura, a member of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly, at the Tokyo city hall, June 19, 2014.
Japanese officials Friday called on the Tokyo city assembly to "clean itself up" after politicians jeered at a female colleague during a meeting.

Assembly woman Ayaka Shiomura was speaking in support of increased services for the city's women when male council members shouted for her to get married and questioned whether she could have children.

Shiomura, a member of the Your Party and one of 25 women on the 127-member body, later wrote on social media that, while she could handle political attacks, sexist comments crossed the line.

In an interview published in the Wall Street Journal, she said it was an offense "even an elementary school child knows is wrong."

Japan has one of the lowest rates of female workforce participation in the developed world. The incident comes as economic reforms are expected next week, aimed at increasing the number of women in management and expanding day care services to support working parents.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who urged the assembly to "clean up," was one of several national-level officials to speak out after the news of the heckling surfaced.

Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Norihisa Tamura told Reuters the comments were "offensive to women" and "absolutely unacceptable" behavior from elected officials.

More than 1,000 emails and calls have flooded into the Tokyo council's offices over the comments, according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Shiomura has requested the council president punish those members responsible for the verbal attacks.

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