TOKYO, Dec 12, 2014:
Taiga Ishikawa has an uphill battle in his bid to becomeJapan’s only openly gay member of Parliament, but hopes his campaign for Sunday’s general election will raise awareness in a nation where gay rights hardly get a nod in the mainstream political agenda.
Ishikawa is keen for his candidacy, which has attracted considerable attention on the Internet, to help others in Japan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community come out of the closet.
“It is said that 3% to 5% of the population in Japan is LGBT. I would like to think that these people could use their vote to tell the nation that they exist,” Ishikawa told Reuters in an interview on the campaign trail.
Ishikawa, 40, is running in a Tokyo district from the tiny opposition Social Democratic Party in a lower house poll that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition is expected to win hands down. Media projections show the SDP may be obliterated by the ruling bloc landslide.
The author of a popular book, “Where’s My Boyfriend”, that described his feelings of isolation from mainstream society, Ishikawa got his start in politics as an aide to the then-leader of the Social Democratic Party.
According to an Ipsos poll for Reuters, only 5% of Japanese say they know someone who is LGBT, compared to 60% or 70% in most Western nations.
EMA is working to change that and has compiled a list of 20 candidates who have openly expressed support for LGBT rights. Another group, Partnership Law Japan, added an another 10. That was out of more than 1,000 people running in Sunday’s poll.