04/26/11-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
There has been so much bad news out of Japan that a little bit of good news is welcome. Taiga Ishikawa has broken down a barrier in Japanese politics by becoming the first openly gay politician in Japan to win an election. He hailed his victory as a victory for the rights of sexual minorities.
He told the AFP “I hope my election victory will help our fellows nationwide to have hope for tomorrow, as many of them cannot accept themselves, feel lonely and isolated and even commit suicide.”
Thirty-six year old Ishikawa won a seat in one of Tokyo’s ward assemblies in a local election this past Sunday. Before his victory, no openly gay politician had ever won office in Japan. He hopes that his victory could help LGBT Japanese.
Ishikawa also said:
“Many LGBTs, or sexual minorities, realise the fact when they are at elementary and junior high schools, many of which are operated by the municipality.”
“As a ward assembly member, I would like to reinforce support to LGBT children at schools.”
Ishikawa has long been working with the LGBT Community in Japan and his book “Boku No Kareshi Wa Doko Ni Iru” or “Where Is My Boyfriend? Was published in 2002. The book is autobiographical. He said “Many readers of my book told me that they are isolated and the situation I wrote about in the book is so similar to theirs. So I started to host events that offer opportunities to have links with friends.”
He went on to found the non-profit organization “Peer Friends”. The group hosts events in Japanese cities to provide young gay men with the opportunity to meet other gays. He has also served as a private secretary to Mizuho Fukushima, the leader of the Social Democratic Party.
While Japanese attitudes towards homosexuality are a little more flexible than they are in some places, being lesbian or gay is looked down upon and transgender rights are pretty close to nonexistent. This is despite the plethora of literature dealing with LGBT issues. Manga and anime have two subsets which deal with lesbian and gay issues quite often. Yuri and yaoi deal with lesbian (yuri) and gay (yaoi) characters and situations. Some of it is just fan service, but there are pieces which deal heavily with the issues surrounding being lesbian or gay. Even some popular series such as Sailor Moon have lesbian or gay characters in them.