Photo/IllutrationSeiko Noda of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who chairs the new group formed to increase the number of child-raising lawmakers, is flanked by her deputies, Komeito's Michiyo Takagi, left, and Renho of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, on March 1. (Taro Saito)

Lawmakers have formed a multipartisan group to promote the active participation of child-rearing colleagues in the Diet with Seiko Noda, internal affairs minister of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as its chair.

Informally known as “Mama Papa Giren," the group seeks to find ways to encourage mothers and fathers to become lawmakers by expanding child-care facilities around the Diet, among other means.

It also aims to improve the child-raising environment across all society.

“I cannot still feel that women are having 100 percent support in serving in the Diet,” Noda told reporters after an inaugural meeting on March 1. “We have to lead efforts to make it natural for lawmakers to get pregnant, give birth and raise children.”

Women accounted for 17.7 percent of all candidates in the Lower House election in October, while only 10.1 percent of the successful candidates were women.

Around 40 male and female Diet members from nine parties, including the LDP, Komeito, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) and Kibo no To (Party of hope), attended the inaugural meeting.

“I will work with our boss, Noda, to represent your voices,” said Renho, a CDP Upper House member, who was appointed as vice chair along with Michiyo Takagi, a Komeito Lower House member.

“When I asked a question to a ruling party heavyweight politician, I was told, 'Women should not poke their nose into politics,’” Renho said, referring to her days as a news anchor. “Twenty-five years later, we now have so many young people before us from across political parties.”

Seiko Hashimoto, chairperson of the LDP's Upper House caucus, serves as the group's secretary-general.

According to data compiled in December by the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Japan ranked 157th among 193 countries for female representation in lower houses.