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Japanese lawmaker says no early morning meetings if she becomes PM

[TOKYO] A Japanese ruling party lawmaker with her eye on becoming the country's first female prime minister says she would do at least one thing differently from men if she gets the top job: no early morning meetings.

"I've come to understand that if I am going to serve as a role model for women, I shouldn't overwork," Seiko Noda told a news conference on Tuesday, noting as a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) executive, she had refused to schedule 8.00 am meetings so she could spend the time with her small son, who is disabled.

"If I become prime minister ... I won't have early morning meetings and will try to encourage reasonable hours," she said. "Just because you work long hours doesn't mean you are productive."

Ms Noda, 55, reiterated she wants to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose term as ruling party chief expires in 2018.

She tried to challenge Mr Abe for the party post in September but failed to get enough backing to launch a formal bid and the premier was re-elected without a vote.

Ms Noda said one of her main policy planks would be to introduce the concept of equal pay for equal work to fix income gaps between regular employees and the growing ranks of part-time and short-term contract workers, who account for about 40 percent of Japan's labour force.

The idea has been floated by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan. "I don't care where the idea comes from," she said, adding anyone with "common sense" would realise it was necessary.