World Former women's empowerment minister to run for Japan PM
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Japan's former women's empowerment minister Seiko Noda announced her last-minute run for leadership of the ruling party on Thursday, the day before campaigning begins.
The winner of the September 29 vote will become prime minister days later and lead the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) into a general election by late November.
Noda, 61, has served as internal affairs minister as well as minister for gender equality and women's empowerment, and was at one time hailed as Japan's most likely first female prime minister.
But she is seen as a long shot to win, and her late candidature indicates she may have struggled to gather the necessary support from fellow LDP lawmakers.
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She joins vaccine chief Taro Kono, moderate Fumio Kishida and divisive right-winger Sanae Takaichi -- another rare woman at the top of Japanese politics -- in the race.
Announcing her candidature at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, the veteran lawmaker outlined her vision of a more inclusive Japan.
"I want to create a conservative politics in which those who could not take centre stage before, such as women, children, the elderly and the disabled, can live comfortably in this society," she said.
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Noda highlighted her long experience despite her relative lack of political clout, saying she would give details of her manifesto on Friday.
Japan's vaccine chief Kono jumps into ruling party leadership race
Japan's Taro Kono, a former foreign and defence minister currently leading the vaccine rollout, announced his run for the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Friday. Whoever wins on September 29 will lead the party into general elections in October or November, and Kono said he was running to "move Japan forward".One of the country's most recognisable political figures, Kono is a top contender for the post, up for grabs after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would not stand.
"The policies of each candidate are brilliant, but I can hardly find any policies that can encourage vulnerable people, which I have tackled as a politician," she said.
"Although I don't have much power, I promise to work hard with my colleagues."
Noda has long pushed for greater gender equality, including allowing married couples to have separate surnames.
She gave birth at the age of 50 after undergoing fertility treatment involving a US egg donor, and has pushed to make fertility treatment more accessible in Japan.
General election success is highly likely for the LDP, which has held power in Japan almost continuously for decades.
But the outcome of the party leadership vote is less predictable than usual because most of the major factions have not endorsed a candidate, turning what is often a formulaic event into a rare free-for-all.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had been expected to stand for re-election, but said earlier this month that he was stepping down in a shock announcement.
Afghan women outraged by new Taliban restrictions on work .
The Taliban's effective ban on women working sank in on Monday, sparking rage over the dramatic loss of rights after millions of female teachers and girls were barred from secondary school education. After pledging a softer version of their brutal and repressive regime of the 1990s, the Islamic fundamentalists are tightening their control of women's freedoms one month after seizing power. "I may as well be dead," said one woman, who was sacked from her senior role at the ministry of foreign affairs."I was in charge of a whole department and there were many women working with me...