Photo/IllutrationYoshitomo Sawada, third from left, chairman of the Kumamoto municiapl assembly, and others consult with Yuka Ogata about the presence of her infant son in the chamber on Nov. 22. (Shimon Sawada)

KUMAMOTO--While politicians often follow in the footsteps of a parent and start their careers young, the presence of a 7-month-old boy in an assembly session here caused quite a stir Nov. 22.

The tot in question was brought to a Kumamoto municipal assembly plenary session in the arms of his mother, assembly member Yuka Ogata, but was quickly removed.

“I wanted to highlight the difficulties facing women who are trying to juggle their careers and raise children,” Ogata, 42, said after the session.

Ogata took her seat in time for the session opening at 10 a.m., and the rest of the chamber was taken aback by the latest addition to its ranks.

Chairman Yoshitomo Sawada and staff members of the assembly secretariat surrounded Ogata to question her about the presence of a child.

This went on for several minutes before Sawada spirited off mother and child to the chairman’s office for further discussion.

Later, Ogata returned to the session, which started 40 minutes behind schedule, alone. She left her son in the care of a friend.

The assembly’s rules do not have a clause prohibiting members from attending a meeting with an infant, according to the secretariat.

But the assembly refused to allow the baby to attend, regarding the infant as a visitor, and applying a rule that visitors must sit in the gallery.

“Visitors are not allowed to enter the chamber during a session under any circumstances,” according to the rule.

Ogata said she took her son to the chamber as her previous discussions with the secretariat about whether she could bring the child had gone nowhere.

She said the secretariat insisted she hire a babysitter.

The secretariat said that while Ogata expressed her “anxiety about being separated from the child for a long time,” the mother did not make a specific request to bring the child into the session.

It added that Sawada and the secretariat were not informed in advance about the baby's appearance and Ogata did not ask for a change in assembly procedures to allow the infant to attend.

“We will hear her request again and discuss the issue at the assembly steering committee,” Sawada said.

Ogata was elected to the assembly in April 2015. She also has a 4-year-old daughter.