Photo/Illutration A cup of tea (Takemichi Nishibori)

SAITAMA--The Saitama prefectural assembly is no longer employing women for the sole purpose of serving tea at meetings, citing budget constraints and changing attitudes toward roles in the workplace.

“In line with the trend of the times, we have been discussing whether it is appropriate to employ women who simply wait to offer tea,” said Nobuaki Kojima, head of the Liberal Democratic Party caucus in the Saitama prefectural assembly. “Those who want drinks should serve themselves.”

The LDP proposed the change at a meeting of representatives of parliamentary groups held on Feb. 13 mainly to discuss slashing costs. Other groups agreed to the suggestion.

According to the assembly secretariat, Saitama Prefecture has hired seven temporary staff members on a daily basis to serve drinks at meetings of eight permanent committees, including the planning and finance panel and the general affairs and resident life panel, as well as special committees.

During breaks at these meetings, the female staff members have rushed around to refill the cups of the assembly members.

A total of 370,000 yen ($3,303) was spent in the prefectural budget for fiscal 2018 to pay the drink servers in accordance with the prefecture’s temporary worker employment manual.

Starting with the February regular session that began on Feb. 20, assembly members have to bring their own drinks in plastic bottles and other means to such meetings.