Japan

Kumamoto assembly OKs rule to limit non-members’ entrance after baby stir

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A Japanese city assembly on Monday approved a proposal to restrict non-members' entrance into the assembly hall after an assemblywoman caused a stir by bringing her baby to a sitting.

The Kumamoto city assembly in southwestern Japan revised assembly rules that previously lacked stipulations on who is allowed to enter the chamber.

Last November, Yuka Ogata, 42, brought her 7-month-old son to a session, saying that she did so in the hope that the assembly would be friendlier to women who are juggling their careers and childrearing.

Ogata opposed the revision, citing a lack of explicit criteria. "We need to set up a committee and discuss the matter with experts," she said.

On Nov 22, the assembly session began about 40 minutes late following a quarrel between the assembly chairman and Ogata. She was eventually persuaded to leave her baby with a friend before returning to attend the session.

She later received a written warning for obstructing the flow of a session.

Ogata said she had been asking the assembly office about whether she could bring her baby with her since she became pregnant.

The proposal, made last month, limits entrance only to assembly members and people who are asked by the chairman and others whose presence the chairman deems particularly necessary.

While some countries allow lawmakers to bring their babies to parliamentary chambers, opinions in Japan are divided.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has been trying to improve conditions for working women, especially after childbirth. But Japan ranks 114th out of 144 countries, one of the worst among industrialized nations, according to the 2017 report on global gender gaps released by the World Economic Forum.

© KYODO

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