Nearly one in three candidates contesting Japan's upper house election next month is a woman, a record number in a country with one of the world's worst rates of female political representation.
Of the 273 candidates running in the July 21 election, where 124 seats across the country are being contested, 82 are women - accounting for 30 per cent of candidates and surpassing the previous record of 27.6 per cent seen in the 2001 upper house election.
Japan has one of the widest gender gaps in the world, with the World Economic Forum ranking the nation 110th out of 149 countries in its gender equality index last year.
To address the dismal rates of women in politics, the nation passed the Gender Parity Law last May.
Of the opposition parties, the Social Democratic Party has been the most aggressive in selecting female candidates, although it is hampered by its small size. Four of its six candidates are women.
The Constitutional Democratic Party's list of 40 candidates includes 17 women, the Democratic Party for the People has nine female candidates out of 25, while the neoconservative Japan Innovation Party is fielding four women across the 18 constituencies it is contesting.
The ruling parties are far less female-friendly, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) naming 12 women among its 82 candidates. The LDP's coalition ally, Komeito, has just two women among its 13 candidates.
"I think those figures are really very symbolic of the kind of thinking that goes on within the LDP, but this does offer an opportunity to the opposition," said Noriko Hama, a professor of economics at Kyoto's Doshisha University.
"For all the promises they have made about female-friendly policies, at the end of the day, the LDP just does not look like a party that looks at women in the way a party and a government should," she said.
"And the opposition has caught onto that. It's a weakness and opposition parties have spotted it and now they are going to try to exploit it, which makes this election a very interesting and important one."
Japanese women feel under-represented when it comes to decision-making and government policy, Hama said, and are likely to demonstrate "solidarity" with female candidates when they cast their votes.
"They are going to support any one of their gender who is willing to stand up and be counted and that might be a problem for the government as the statistics show that women across all sectors of Japanese society are deeply sceptical of this government and its policies."
But with national security and geopolitical issues at the forefront of voters' minds, a former politician says the increase in female representation may mean little to some.
"Parties like the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) are just too far to the left, and their policies are too far from the mainstream for most people," said Keiro Kitagami, a former member of the Democratic Party of Japan.
He pointed out one of the CDP's candidates is a vocal campaigner for LGBT rights and was one of the first same-sex couples to get married in Japan.
"Maybe 20 years ago, social issues were important to people, but when I knock on doors and talk to voters, the things they are worried about now are mostly related to national security - and that includes women voters," he said. "They are worried about North Korea lobbing missiles this way and China's creeping expansionism.
"People want the government to keep them safe and the only party that has a track record in that area is the LDP," he said.
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