TOKYO (CNN/TV ASAHI) – Footage of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in Japan is sparking outrage – and highlighting what many say is a persistent and deep-rooted problem in the country.
Visibly shaken, assembly member Ayaka Shiomura struggles to keep her composure.
Male members from an opposing party are heard heckling her off camera, as she calls for more services for women.
“You better get married quickly,” one man shouts.
Shiomura says another yelled “can’t you even bear a child?”
“Heckles kept coming one after another,” she says.
Shiomura finished the speech with tears in her eyes, and her voice breaking.
She later posted on Facebook “it was like a punch in the gut.”
Ayaka Shiomura: “I want whoever did this to come forward,” she says.
The outburst is fueling outrage on the streets of Tokyo.
“I couldn’t believe how the men responded,” says this man.
This woman says – “I’m so embarrassed by the lack of decency among Japanese men.”
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe says women in the workforce are underpaid and underutilized.
Here in Japan, women earn 30-percent less than men. Abe has a plan called “womenomics” to equalize giant gender gaps in pay and power.
But even in his own central government, women hold just 3 percent of management jobs.
Abe wants 30-percent by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
These heckles are a jarring reminder of the widely held fear that fertility rates will fall further if more Japanese women focus less on family and more on career.
A social stigma so strong not even powerful women elected into office are immune.