TOKYO, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Japanese women are discouraged from entering politics, according to female politicians who said they have been subjected to sexual harassment by senior male politicians who can go to extremes, including asking female peers to show their undergarments.
Ruling party lawmaker Seiko Noda, Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Kiyomi Tsujimoto, and Renho, a member of the Upper House of the Diet of Japan who goes by one name, told reporters the reality of being a female politician in Japan is sobering, Tokyo Shimbun reported Wednesday.
Noda, who first ran for parliament when she was 29, said sexual harassment also originates from the voting public. Noda said a male voter sexually harassed her during one of her campaigns, and while in office male parliamentarians would either ignore her or mock her gender and women's attire.
Senior lawmakers used to tell her to obey their instructions, and when she refused, she would be subjected to verbal attacks, Noda said. Men made it clear that as a woman Noda was not their equal, and told her she could not stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" with them.
Noda said it is common for men to grope their female peers, and during events that involve drinking, they ask female colleagues to show their undergarments "for a vote."
Tsujimoto, who was heckled by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in May when she questioned Japan's security legislation, said Abe would not have been so brusque if she were a man.
Abe had said, "Ask the question already!" in a forceful manner on May 28, which brought the parliamentary debate to a halt.
Female participation in the government offices is low. Kyodo news reported data from July 2015 indicated women only occupy 3.5 percent of domestic government offices, or 330 in total.