Sat, Dec 13, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Japanese politician faces uphill battle in tough race

Reuters, TOKYO

Taiga Ishikawa has an uphill battle in his bid to become Japan’s only openly gay member of parliament, but hopes his campaign for tomorrow’s general election will raise awareness in a nation where the gay agenda hardly gets a nod in mainstream politics.

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 percent 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 reporters in an interview.

Apart from Kanako Otsuji, who briefly filled a vacancy in the upper house last year, Japan has had no openly gay lawmakers at the national level.

Ishikawa, 40, is running in a Tokyo district for the tiny opposition Social Democratic Party in a lower house poll that Japanese 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.

Homosexuality is not a crime in Japan, but many members of the LGBT community face discrimination in schools, workplaces and at home, and prefer to hide their behavior.

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