The Japanese LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community is making a push to be heard and to be relevant, especially in the area of politics and government. All over the country, there are Japanese LGBT politicians who are choosing to serve in the government to give sexual minorities a bigger voice in the Japanese society, a country that has been known for suppression of sexual minorities and for being firm in traditional beliefs.
To this cause, some who are part of the Tokyo LGBT community are also secretly doing their share. Some 20 LGBT lawmakers, local assembly members, bureaucrats and lawyers have been meeting in private, learning in study sessions for several years now in the nation’s capital. “Nagatacho and Kasumigaseki (referring to the Japanese legislative branch and the Cabinet Office respectively) have regarded the issue of LGBT as non-existent,” said an insider who takes part in these private and secluded meetings. “If we, LGBTs who are working there, unite ourselves, it will become easier for us to reach out to politics.” The details of the meetings remain secret, mainly because some – if not most – of the members have not revealed their sexual orientation at their places of employment for fear of discrimination. Even the members of the group are banned from talking about their sessions. According to an insider, who for obvious reasons chose to remain anonymous, they meet once every two months to exchange opinions on judicial precedents, foreign legal cases, and their own efforts to help raise awareness in Japan of LGBT issues.
Aya Kamikawa, a transgender woman who serves as a Setagaya Ward assembly member, is one of those politicians working publicly. “If we do not raise our voices, people deem us as non-beings and end up labeling us as ‘sexual perverts,’” Kamikawa said. On one of Kamikawa’s public events, a Coming-of-Age ceremony for sexual minorities who have turned, or will turn 20, by the end of March took place in Tokyo on Jan. 19, the new adults were given a boost by the transgender politician. “I am so proud of every one of you,” Kamikawa told the 170 who took part in the ceremony. Kamikawa, at age 46, is the first politician in Japan who was revealed to be a transsexual before running for office.
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