Yuka Ogata, a councilwoman from Kumamoto City, recently caused a controversy among her peers when she brought in her 7-month-old son at a council session on November 22.
Ogata, a 42-year-old graduate of George Mason University and previous United Nations employee posted in Yemen, was one of the first council members to arrive in the venue on Wednesday last week. Before entering the building, she was spotted by the media with an acquaintance while pushing a stroller with her 7-month-old son inside it, according to Japanese media outlet Jin via SoraNews24.
Things took an unexpected turn when other council members took notice of her child while in session. It prompted chairman Shosaku Sawada to announced a delay in session as the two moved to the other room to debate about Ogata’s decision to bring her child in a council meeting. She was asked to give her child to her acquaintance before speaking with the chairman.
The 42-year-old council member is the first ever to ever give birth while still active in Kumamoto City office, said on the report. After discovering she is pregnant with her second child in April – she also has a 3-year-old daughter – Ogata consulted the council’s secretariat if it’s possible to bring her child in the assembly hall with her during sessions; unfortunately, she was unable to obtain favorable response. Still, Ogata tried to resolve the matter by bringing the child in the assembly hall despite the lack of formal blessing or official clearance.
After roughly 30 minutes of debate in the other room, Ogata and chairman Sawada came back to the assembly hall and prompting the latter to apologize for the delay; however, one of the councilman was reportedly heard retorting “You’re not the one who needs to be apologizing.”
Ogata hopes that this will help raise public awareness for working mothers.
“By serving as a councilwoman while raising a baby, I hope to be a spokesperson for other people of my generation who are in similar situations…Even though [child-rearing] is a societal problem, in the workplace it ends up being treated as an individual’s problem,” the councilwoman said.
Not everyone, of course, shares her colleagues’ view. During a media interview outside the assembly hall with residents from Kumamoto, some people expressed their support to Ogata’s decision; of course, others showed criticism, much like what happened to Michigan State representative Stephanie Chang when she brought her daughter to a community meeting.
Featured image via YouTube / ANNnewsCH