Japan’s first lesbian politician gets married

June 12, 2007

TOKYO — Kanako Otsuji, the first lesbian politician in Japan to be open about her sexual orientation, got married on Sunday, June 3, to Maki Kimura, her partner and also an employee of hers, Gay Japan News reported. One thousand people came to the couples’ wedding, which occurred at Ikeda Park in Nagoya, Japan. The couple had been together for four years prior to getting married.

Otsuji was once an Osaka Assembly Member and is now a candidate for the Democratic Party of Japan, says Gay Japan News.

Gay Japan News also reported that Otsuji made this statement following her wedding, regarding visibility and the gay population: “Gays and lesbians are hiding themselves in society to protect themselves. I want people to know that gays and lesbians exist in society by looking at us.”

Same-sex marriage is still not legal yet in Japan, and neither is civil unions. Otsuji has vowed to increase the rights for gays and lesbians in that country, by living life openly, and also by legalizing same-sex civil unions. "By serving as a politician who is openly lesbian, I can make the homosexual population a visible issue," Otsuji told the AFP news service. She further stated in an interview at a campaign office that "I believe one of my missions in parliament would be to expedite legislation of a system similar to a civil union," reported the AFP.

However, Otsuji has stated that gay civil unions will take a long time to be legalized in Japan, and that there will be a minimum of a decade of discussion on the topic. She noted that as of now Japanese women are not even allowed to have two last names. The AFP said that gay orientation is not talked about openly in Japanese society, though it is acknowledged as existing: For example, areas catering to gay people have appeared in big Japanese cities. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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