|Member of the House of Representatives of Japan|
|Incumbent||October 23, 2017|
|Constituency||Proportional Chugoku Block|
|Born||April 22, 1967|
Mio Sugita (杉田 水脈 Sugita Mio, born April 22, 1967) is a Japanese politician. Sugita is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and an incumbent member of the House of Representatives for the Proportional Chugoku Block.
Early life and education
After unsuccessfully running in the 2014 election for the Hyogo Prefectural 6th District (garnering the fewest votes of any candidate) as a member of The Party for Japanese Kokoro, Sugita changed parties, joining the Liberal Democratic Party. She next ran for the Proportional Chugoku Block as an LDP member, and was made a representative of that Block by the LDP, without having to rely directly on a direct election.
Sugita married at age 26. Her husband is an engineer. They have one child, a daughter.
Women using maiden names
A debate has been continuing in Japan on whether or not married couples should be allowed to retain their own names after marriage and thus have different surnames. At present, married people must share the same surname, whether the husband's name or the wife's maiden name. During a Diet session on January 23, 2020 when this issue was being debated, a female Diet member shouted out of turn (called a "yaji" in Japanese), "if you don’t want your husband’s name, you shouldn’t get married!" The Diet member was reported to have been Sugita.
In 2013 Sugita joined fellow Japan Restoration Party members Yuzuru Nishida and Hiromu Nakamaru at the Study Group for Japan's Rebirth based in Los Angeles to request removal of a statue in Glendale, Los Angeles County, California. The statue commemorates as many as 200,000 "comfort women" from Korea and other countries "forced into sex slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II". Statue opponents, including Sugita, said, "the women acted willingly" and that the numbers of them reported are inflated. The three politicians also stated that they wanted the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to retract an apology made in the 1990s to comfort women.
Shiori Itō rape case
Sugita appeared in a 2018 BBC documentary "Japan's Secret Shame" which detailed the alleged rape of Shiori Itō. In the interview, Sugita was quoted as saying, "With this case, there were clear errors on her part as a woman; drinking that much in front of a man and losing her memory. With things like this I think men are the ones who suffer significant damage.” Sugita also laughed at an illustration with a woman apparently made to look like Itō and the words "failure at sleeping around for business".
The video has subsequently drawn criticism on social media. Sugita was criticized by Lully Miura, an instructor at the Policy Alternatives Research Institute at the University of Tokyo who wrote, "Behavior as if questioning the actions of the victim instead of the perpetrator will spread the misunderstanding that it cannot be helped if something happens to a woman when she gets drunk in front of a man. There seems to be a sense of dislike against women strongly speaking up to men that is embedded in Sugita's attitude." When approached for comment about the documentary by the Mainichi Shimbun, Sugita stated the video had been edited in a way that misrepresented her intentions and she was considering releasing her own footage of the interview.
In 2015, Sugita made an appearance on the Japanese Culture Channel Sakura television program Hi Izuru Kuni Yori alongside music composer Koichi Sugiyama and fellow politician Kyoko Nakayama in which she claimed that there was no need for LGBT education in schools, dismissing concerns about high suicide rates among the community. In July 2018, Sugita wrote a magazine article that described LGBT couples as "unproductive" as they can not bear children and thus were not worth taxpayer investment. Her comments were denounced by various prominent Japanese politicians, including former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, with thousands of protesters gathering outside the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party on July 27, 2018 to demand her resignation from the party. Two months later, a group of LGBT politicians and civil rights leaders demanded that she account for the comments.
In September 2020, at a party gathering for the LDP government, participants claimed that Sugita remarked, "Women can tell lies as much as they want," during a briefing about the government’s support program for sexual violence victims. The remark was likely related to Shiori Ito, a controversial figure due to her rape allegations, who was recently selected by Time magazine, as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. Sugita later denied having made those comments.
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