Kanako Otsuji, Japan’s first openly lesbian politician and candidate in the upcoming Upper House election, held a press conference at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on 20 June.
While the Japanese media has paid attention almost only to Otsuji’s sexuality, foreign journalists are more interested in her campaign in itself.
If elected she will be the first openly LGBT politician in parliament, which many think would accelerate Japan’s movement for LGBT equality.
The foreign press are also wondering whether Japanese people would accept a lesbian politician and LGBT issues as a political matter.
At the conference, Otsuji talked about her motivation to decide to run for the election, the process to get an official party endorsement and the difficult situations surrounding LGBT people in Japan.
She asserted the importance of bias-free education and needs to establish anti-discrimination law including LGBT legislation and a civil partnership act.
In a question-and-answer session after her speech, Otsuji was asked how she rates her chances of winning the election.
She replied that she can get 150,000 votes to secure her victory if LGBT people whose voices are not yet heard vote for her.
Asked what she thinks about that Guido Westerwelle, the openly gay leader of Freie Demokratische Partei, Germany’s centre-right party, she said she wants Japan to be like Germany in 10 years and will put her effort to make it happen.
In other countries, openly LGBT politicians are not rare.
According to Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, there are about 300 openly LGBT politicians in the U.S.
After the conference, Kanako told GayJapanNews that she is happy that foreign media has been paying attention to her campaign. She added she wanted to appeal to Japanese media that LGBT issues are political and rights issues.
Election schedule is changed from 22 to 29 July as the ruling parties, Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, have decided to extend parliamentary sessions.
Editors Tom Paine, Azusa Yamashita