A social gathering organized with the theme of diversity by the Wakayama Prefectural Association of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), recently sparked public criticism, resulting in resignations as it featured exotic dancers performing for members of the party’s Youth Bureau and local politicians from the Kinki region. 

The event was held at a hotel in Wakayama city last November with approximately 40 people in attendance. Five female dancers, reported to belong to the Osaka and Kyoto-based Glamor Dancers group, were dressed in revealing outfits and received tips from attendees mouth-to-mouth. According to a participant, the dancers appeared twice and had a costume change. 

Despite assertions that no public funds were used to sponsor the event, the content was deemed inappropriate.

Resignations and Fallout

Three leading members of the Youth Bureau have resigned since the news came to light. Among them is Yasutaka Nakasone, the acting head of the bureau and the grandson of former Prime Minister and President of the LDP Yasuhiro Nakasone, who was also no stranger to a scandal or two himself. Tetsuya Kawabata, the former Youth Bureau chief, used the term “go-go dancer” to describe the event contents in his official statement of resignation.

“Throughout this fiscal year, we have been aiming to hold meetings where the theme of diversity is taken seriously, not just in words but also in actions, to ensure that attention is paid to those who are living different lifestyles or working hard in various professions,” said Kawabata in an official statement to the press. “We wanted to create a forum where we could raise questions about whether we are truly attentive to such individuals… Taking various factors into account, we decided to invite the aforementioned dancers. However, the excitement that ensued, particularly towards the end of the social gathering, exceeded my expectations. Looking back, I believe I should have been more cautious in my selection, and I am reflecting on this.”

Public Response

Public figures and netizens criticized the event, questioning how it was intended to promote diversity. The hashtag “extreme dance show” began trending on X soon after the news was made public. Member of the House of Councillors and Constitutional Democratic Party, Maiko Tajima, took to X to comment on the Youth Bureau Chief’s resignation. 

“If you truly want to raise awareness about diversity and various lifestyles that politics hasn’t addressed, then seriously work on achieving selective spousal surnames, supporting single mothers, and providing assistance to male and female sexual assault victims. Not by handing tips mouth-to-mouth to scantily clad female dancers,” she wrote.

Another user on X commented that upon hearing “diversity” and “dancer” mentioned together, they assumed the content would be similar to that of establishments such as Roppongi Kingyo, a theater show restaurant that features trans, male and female dancers.

What’s clear from this recent scandal is that the conservative ruling party views diversity differently from the public’s understanding, raising doubts about the competence and relevance of the male-dominated party. It also raises questions about conservatism’s place in a progressive society.

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