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Japan premier’s aide sacked over anti-LGBT comments

A majority of members in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are opposed to the legalization of same-sex marriage

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at the headquarters of Japan Business Federation, in Tokyo in December 2022. Kishida has dismissed his close aide for his anti-LGBT comments

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers a speech at the headquarters of Japan Business Federation, in Tokyo in December 2022. Kishida has dismissed his close aide for his anti-LGBT comments. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 07, 2023 11:13 AM GMT

Updated: February 07, 2023 11:22 AM GMT

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dismissed a close aide following media reports accusing him of making derogatory remarks against sexual minorities.

Masayoshi Arai who served as an executive secretary to Kishida had given out off-the-record comments to the press on Feb. 3 highlighting his reluctance to “not even want to look at” sexual minorities, The Asahi Shimbun reported on Feb. 4.

Kishida told the press that Arai’s statements were absolutely against his government’s stance for an inclusive Japanese society.

“My administration has made clear that it is seeking to establish a sustainable and inclusive society in which diversity is recognized. The comments by Arai go completely against that stance,” Kishida said during his recent visit to Sakai, Fukui Prefecture

The controversy erupted after Arai stated that he would not even want to live next door to same-sex couples during a Feb. 3 meeting with reporters.

He retracted his statements the same day as some of the remarks had derogatory tones towards same-sex couples and LGBTQ individuals.

Arai’s remarks had come following Prime Minister Kishida expressing hesitation in legalizing same-sex marriage saying that it would fundamentally “change society” and people's values.

Earlier during a discussion in Japan’s Lower House regarding the legalization of same-sex unions on Feb. 1, Kishida stated that the matter of legalization of same-sex marriages would be a topic that is considered “very carefully."

“Because it’s a topic that will change people’s perception of family, values, and society, it’s important to make a decision only after deeply contemplating the mood of the whole of society,” Kishida had said during the session.

A significant number of members of Kishida’s ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party have opposed the legalization of same-sex marriages, citing the country's traditional values such as the role of women in raising children.   

Among the G7 nations, Japan remains the only nation that does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions. All the other members -- the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom -- recognize same-sex marriages.

Even though Japan does not recognize same-sex marriages local governments issue their own partnership certificates to same-sex couples. But they do not offer the same legal benefits as that of a marriage between opposite genders.

More than 250 local governments in Japan have introduced these kinds of systems, covering about 60 percent of the Japanese population.

A 2021 survey conducted by New York-based Ipsos revealed that around 69 percent of Japanese citizens support legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

However, the societal stigma and lack of acceptance in society has psychologically affected many LGBTQ individuals, reveals a 2022 survey by Tokyo-based nonprofit organization ReBit, reported TheMainichi newspaper.

ReBit conducted the online survey between Sept. 4-30 on sexual minorities aged between 12 and 34 and analyzed valid responses from 2,623 people.

Among the respondents, 40.4 percent revealed that they thought about suicide over the past year.

Around 48.1 percent of the respondents younger than 20 thought about killing themselves during the past year, while 14 percent attempted suicide and 38.1 percent inflicted self-harm.

All these rates were higher than those of respondents in their 20s and 30s.

Around 52.5 percent of respondents experienced ill health or mental disorders over the past year, while 56.1 percent of respondents under 20 felt psychological distress on par with mood or anxiety disorders.

Nearly 50 percent of respondents in their 20s and 30s also felt distressed.

Japan scored 64 points on a scale of 100 for LGBT rights in the latest equality index published by Equaldex which analyzes the progress of LGBTQ+ rights across the world.

Neighboring North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines have a score of 33, 54, 66, and 58, respectively.


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