TOKYO, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) came under fire Friday as one of its lower house lawmakers admitted making sexist remarks to a female Diet member during a committee hearing in April.
Hideo Onishi, 67, admitted taunting Japan Restoration Party ( JRP) member Sayuri Uenishi, 31, telling her to "get married and have children."
Onishi, having told the Kyodo News Thursday that he had "no recollection" of making the sexist jibes, reportedly called Uenishi and apologized to her on the telephone earlier Friday.
LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba said he had personally reproached the actions of Onishi and told a press briefing the ruling party felt contrition and would warn all its Diet members and local chapters nationwide about making sexist remarks.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said that such remarks were inexcusable, stating, "It's extremely regrettable because the administration of (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe has been trying to create a society in which women can pursue their potential."
The latest revelation of sexism in national politics comes on the heels of an incident in June that saw Your Party assemblywoman Ayaka Shiomura, 35, on the receiving end of a torrent of sexist abuse, some of which Akihiro Suzuki, 51, a now former ruling LDP member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, admitted to making and subsequently apologized for.
Suzuki's jibes included telling Shiomura that, "You should get married first," and asking, "Can't you have babies?"
The comments, which observers say reflect an underlying chauvinistic attitude in Japan when it comes to gender roles, fly in the face of Abe's moves through the Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office and other policy drives to make it easier for women to work and rise through the ranks in corporate and political Japan.
Gender equality minister Masako Mori was quick to blast Onishi and the latest sexist incident, telling a news conference that, " Heckling that is equivalent to discrimination against women and sexual harassment can never be justified."
Her sentiments were echoed by administrative reform minister Tomomi Inada, who said the comments hinder women's role in society and shouldn't be tolerated.
At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos, Switzerland, Abe pledged to ensure that 30 percent of all senior leadership posts in Japan would be occupied by women by 2020.
But observers say this may be a lofty goal due to Japan's inherent gender gaps and patriarchal leanings, as evidenced by the World Economic Forum's latest report that shows the rate of female participation in Japan's labor force is only 63 percent, compared to 85 percent for their male counterparts.
In addition, Japan has one of the lowest female labor participation rates among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
Among those employed, 35 percent of women are in part-time employment, compared to 10 percent of men, with men in full-time employment averaging pay checks 30 percent higher than women.
Statistics from the National Personnel Authority also show that only 3 percent of women are managers in Japan's central government.
While Abe's colleague Suzuki quit the LDP but maintained he won 't quit the legislature, the latest development in LDP-related sexism points to a deep-rooted gender bias in the ruling party.
Onishi and Suzuki were both slow to admit culpability, with observers suggesting the delay was because the perpetrators felt their heckles weren't out of the ordinary, and only came forward due to international media scrutiny.