Progressive change and growth is slow to happen in Japan, but celebration has advanced this past month with cheers at Tokyo’s PRIDE parade. The first parade in four years commenced and was an absolute success! This parade not only gathered thousands of allies and those in the LGBTQ+ community, but pushed the notion of legally recognizing same-sex unions. Japan will host a summit in the upcoming weeks hosting to the Group of Seven (G7) industrial powers. Japan is the only one out of those seven to not recognize same-sex marriage.
Advancing support for LGBTQ+ communities and organizations from the nation’s top businesses and lobbies has been putting pressure on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the government. The estimated 10,000 parade goers banned together in realization that their work has just started, and they are hopeful for change. The crowd also included a group from Taiwan, the only Asian nation with same-sex marriage.
"Japan is really far behind...we will fight until the entire country has same-sex marriage. I think the government is both pretending to see us and pretending not to, but that change will really start happening from here on in," stated Himama, who decided to undisclose his legal name in consideration for his family members.
Since the last pre-pandemic parade hosted in Tokyo, the number of Japanese municipalities allowing same-sex couples to enter partnership agreements has risen from 26 to 300, about 65% of the population. But unfortunately, these partnerships prohibit the allowance to inherit each other’s assets, it denies them guardianship over the other’s children, and family hospital visits are not guaranteed. These aspects of these agreements need to be changed and advanced. In bare minimum terms, marriage is the consent of conjoining two lives and adopting the other’s responsibilities.
The Japanese constitution would need to be amended if same-sex marriage were to be voted into legalization. As of right now the constitution states that marriage is between both sexes and mentions the equal rights of both the husband and wife. Kishida believes that the people of Japan won’t be as welcoming to new progressive laws despite the public's efforts, but recent polls state that 70% of the population is in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.
Many large Japanese businesses find themselves drowning underneath the competition due to lack of diversity and support for the LGBTQ+. Head of Keidanren business lobby, Masakazu Tokura, told the press during his trip to the U.S. that the LGBTQ+ diversity gap between Japan and other leading nations is embarrassing. In recent years, NEC Corporation in Japan has promoted diversity in-house and has granted LGBTQ+ couples some of the same rights as heterosexual married couples–and about 100 of the NEC employees marched in Tokyo’s parade.
If the argument of basic human rights won’t change the legislators mind, maybe the conversation of increasing revenue and boosting the economy will. Activist group, “Marriage for All Japan” believes this statement to be true and member Takeharu Kato stated, "conservative politicians' idea of traditional family may be hard to change, but the idea of boosting Japan's economy will definitely resonate.”