Of all the candidates for Japan’s most sexist comment of the year, there seemed to be only one possible winner – Yoshiro Mori, the former head of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organising committee, who was forced to resign last month after complaining that women “talked too much” during meetings.
Sugita, an MP representing the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP), was named the winner this week after an online vote organised by Noaseps (No to all sexist public speeches), a group comprising academics and campaigners that highlights gender discrimination in 日本.
Sugita emerged as a contender in September last year when she told fellow LDP lawmakers at a private meeting that “women can lie as much as they like” about sexual violence.
The group said Sugita’s remarks had received 1,995 votes among 6,031 cast by members of the public over a weeklong period from late February, with each voter able to select up to two from among eight comments made over the previous 12 月.
It said Sugita’s remark had been “misogynistic as it questions women when they come forward with sexual violence claims as if they were false reports from the very beginning, without specifying justifiable grounds”.
Mori, a former prime minister, came second with 1,216 votes, according to Japanese media reports.
Third place went to Masateru Shiraishi, an assembly member in a Tokyo ward who complained that the area would be “wiped out” by depopulation if the rights of sexual minorities were protected by law.
While Mori resigned after his comments sparked uproar in Japan and overseas, Sugita – an ally of the former prime minister, Shinzo Abe – has survived calls for her to resign.
She finished second in the 2019 vote – after saying that members of the LGBT community were “unproductive” because they cannot have children.
Sugita wrote in a magazine article that same-sex couples “don’t produce children. 言い換えると, they lack productivity and, したがって、, do not contribute to the prosperity of the nation”, 彼女は言いました, while questioning the use of taxpayers’ money to support gay marriages.
Sugita was beaten in the 2019 vote by Taro Aso, Japan’s finance minister, who had attempted to blame the victim after Junichi Fukuda, the finance ministry’s most senior bureaucrat, was accused of sexually harassing a female reporter.
Aso said the victim “could have left the scene” if she had objected to Fukuda’s behaviour, adding that the media could prevent a recurrence by assigning only male reporters to cover the ministry.