Japan’s sports governing bodies fail to hit female leadership targets

A poll of 58 Japanese Olympic and Paralympic sports governing bodies has found that the representation of women on their boards is less than half of targets set by the Japanese government.

Kyodo News reported that, while the male-female ratio of Japanese athletes competing at Tokyo 2020 is expected to be even – the best-ever ratio for female Japanese athletes – not many women are in organisational leadership positions. The ratio of female board members at Japanese sports governing bodies is 16.1 per cent, far short of the 40 per cent target set by the Japan Sports Agency. The agency is a government body charged with improving the health of the Japanese population, improving the performance of Japanese athletes, and organising training for Japanese coaches.

Only three of the 58 bodies met the female board representation target: the Japan Swimming Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability, at 55.6 percent; the Japan Riding Association for the Disabled, at 50 per cent; and the Japan Para Table Tennis Association, at 40 percent.

Five bodies, including the Nippon Surfing Association, had no female board members.

Responding to the poll, Kaori Yamaguchi, a former judo world champion and a professor at the University of Tsukuba, told local media: “More bodies have become aware that they need female board members. But they have yet to actually appoint women.

“If they say there is no right person, it’s obvious they are not serious enough.

“We still have harassment and violence in the sporting world. Old-fashioned bodies cannot prevent such problems and could only exacerbate them.”