Advocating policy interests in local politics: Women's substantive representation in Japan and South Korea

Jiso Yoon, Kimiko Osawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper investigates how women's interests and rights are advocated in the legislatures in both the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly (Japan) and the Seoul Metropolitan Council (South Korea). A growing body of comparative research on women's substantive representation provides insights into the kinds of policy topics that are often categorized as women's issues, as well as the personal backgrounds of the legislators who represent women's interests. We raise and analyze three key questions: Can only female legislators represent women's interests? How does a legislator's sex/gender interact with other factors such as partisanship in shaping who represents women's interests and how? How do contextual factors such as party systems impact how women's substantive representation occurs? We explore these questions in the context of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and the Seoul Metropolitan Council using an in-depth examination of statements made by local council members in plenary and committee sessions (Tokyo 2009-2015 and Seoul 2009-2014). We found that similar issues are discussed as being relevant to women in the two local councils. However, the issues emphasized and where those issues are discussed vary across our cases. Female members, regardless of their party affiliation, address women's issues more often than their male counterparts in both countries, although female members of progressive parties tend to advocate for women more actively, and parties representing distinct constituencies and ideologies highlight different aspects of women's concerns. Our findings contribute to existing knowledge of women's substantive representation, as well as to research on women and politics in the Asian region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-67
Number of pages25
JournalAsian Women
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017



  • East Asia
  • Japan
  • Local politics
  • Political party
  • South Korea
  • Women's representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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