Japan’s first female top prosecutor to take post July 9

Naomi Unemoto, who currently heads the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, will become the nation’s first female top prosecutor when she takes office on July 9.

The 61-year-old Unemoto will replace Yukio Kai, 64, as prosecutor-general, under a government decision reached June 28.

A native of Chiba Prefecture, Unemoto became a legal apprentice in 1986, when the Equal Employment Opportunity Law took effect, and was appointed as a prosecutor two years later.

She became the head of the Hiroshima High Public Prosecutors Office in July 2021, making her the first female superintending prosecutor.

After she took the top job at the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office in January 2023, Unemoto oversaw investigations into the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s political fund scandal and a bribery scandal over the government’s offshore wind power projects.

Unemoto was among the only four women who were appointed as prosecutors in 1988, along with 37 men.

In fiscal 2023, 76 people were appointed as prosecutors, and women accounted for 31, or about 40 percent.

As of March last year, 539 women were working as prosecutors, or 27.2 percent of the total.

In the judicial fraternity, Reiko Fuchigami, a 69-year-old lawyer, became the first female president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations in April.

Fuchigami served as the first female president of the Tokyo Bar Association for one year from April 2017.

The national federation, established in 1949, counts about 46,000 attorneys among its members.

“Bearing the heavy responsibility of being the first female president, I will devote myself to the task as someone who embodies gender equality,” Fuchigami told a news conference after she was elected president. “We need to change the landscape by having a woman at the top.”

However, no woman has yet served as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The nation’s top court has 15 justices, including the chief justice. The new chief justice is usually appointed from among the remaining 14 justices.

Nine women, all government bureaucrats and lawyers, have served as Supreme Court justices.

Many people in the legal community say a woman is not expected to lead the top court in the foreseeable future because all top justices over the past 40 years or so have been appointed from justices who previously served as court judges.

Source:  https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15325732