Tokyo saw its first full Pride parade in four years, with crowds celebrating advances in LGBTQ rights, but also demanding the legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade marches for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality in Japan on April 23, 2023.(Image Source – Reuters)
On Sunday, in Tokyo, crowds cheered and waved flags during the first full Pride parade in four years, celebrating the progress made in LGBTQ rights. However, they also demanded that Japan join other advanced nations in legally recognizing same-sex marriage.
Japan has been slow to change its stance on this issue, and it remains the only member of the G7 industrial powers that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Japan is set to host the G7 summit next month.
Japan’s government, led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his conservative ruling party, is facing pressure from the nation’s top business lobby and major companies, who are showing growing support for legalizing same-sex marriage.
Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2023: LGBTQ+ folks and allies marched together. (Image Source – Twitter/@myhlee)
The first full Pride parade in four years was held on Sunday in Tokyo’s downtown Shibuya district, with around 10,000 participants estimated by the organizers. While acknowledging that Japan lags behind the rest of the G7 countries, the participants remained hopeful for change.
One participant, Himama, who sported a pink-dyed goatee, stated that they would fight until the entire country has legalized same-sex marriage, but declined to reveal their real name out of consideration for their family members.
(Photo by AP)
Himama, a participant in Tokyo’s Pride parade, expressed the need for Japan to catch up with other countries on same-sex marriage, stating “Japan is really far behind… We will fight until the entire country has same-sex marriage.”
Masako Mori, a special advisor to Prime Minister Kishida on LGBTQ affairs, attended the parade but did not mention same-sex marriage in her remarks.
The parade drew crowds of onlookers who waved rainbow flags and cheered the marchers. The parade also included a group from Taiwan, which is the only Asian nation with legalized same-sex marriage. While the number of Japanese municipalities allowing same-sex partnerships has increased from 26 to around 300 since the last pre-pandemic Pride parade in 2019, these partnerships still do not offer the same rights as legal marriage, such as parental rights and inheritance.
While public opinion in Japan shows support for same-sex marriage, Prime Minister Kishida remains noncommittal, stating that “circumstances in each country are different, and I believe it is important to proceed with discussions carefully.”
The Japanese constitution defines marriage as being between “both sexes,” which would require an amendment to the civil code to allow for same-sex marriage. Some lawmakers have pledged to promote understanding of LGBTQ before the upcoming G7 summit, but activists and business leaders say this falls short of ensuring equal rights and anti-discrimination measures for LGBTQ, which Japan committed to at last year’s G7 summit.
In February, Kishida dismissed an aide who sparked outrage by suggesting that people would leave Japan if same-sex marriage were allowed.
(P.c – Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)
The growing support for LGBTQ rights in Japan is putting pressure on the government to recognize same-sex marriage. Even though Japan is the only member of the G7 that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, there is hope that change will come.
During the recent Tokyo Pride parade, the crowds celebrated the advances in LGBTQ rights, but demanded Japan join other advanced nations in legally recognizing same-sex marriage. Although the situation in Japan has long limited the talent pool for global firms, the powerful Keidanren business lobby, as well as other major Japanese companies, are now advocating for LGBTQ rights.
This includes NEC, which has in recent years promoted diversity in-house and grants LGBTQ couples some of the same benefits as married couples. Despite this progress, Masako Mori, a special advisor to Prime Minister Kishida on LGBTQ affairs, did not mention same-sex marriage in brief remarks before the parade began.