A Japanese women’s university said Tuesday it would admit transgender students who were born male but identify as female, a rare move in a country where LGBT rights lag behind other developed nations. An official at the education ministry said the move by Ochanomizu University in Tokyo was “likely unprecedented”, though he could not confirm if it was a national first, and praised the decision. “It is desirable that many universities take steps in the direction of understanding the needs of sexual minorities, though making such a decision is up to each university,” he said.
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, and social status but does not prohibit discrimination based on language, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Although the government enforced these prohibitions to some degree, discrimination against women, minority group members, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, and foreigners remained... Expand
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, and social status but does not prohibit discrimination based on language, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Although the government enforced these prohibitions to some degree, discrimination against women, minority group members, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, and foreigners remained problems. Moreover, enforcement was not uniform, with some provisions for persons with disabilities interpreted as applying to the public sector but not the private sector.
No law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There are no penalties associated with such discrimination, and no related statistics were available. Laws governing rape, sexual commerce, and other activity involving sexual intercourse do not apply to same-sex sexual activity, since sex is defined in the law as exclusively male-to-female vaginal intercourse. This definition leads to lower penalties for perpetrators of male rape and greater legal ambiguity surrounding same-sex prostitution.
In December 2013 the Supreme Court recognized a paternity claim by a transgender man whose eldest son was born through artificial insemination, after the Osaka Family Court had rejected the man’s claim in September. The Osaka court ruled that the child could not have a blood relationship with the father because the father was not biologically capable of reproduction as a male. The Supreme Court decision applied only to the man’s oldest son, born in 2010. The Supreme Court has yet to announce a ruling on the man’s second son, born in 2012 and the subject of a separate case pending in the Osaka Family Court.
NGOs that advocate on behalf of LGBT persons reported no impediments to organization but some instances of bullying, harassment, and violence. Stigma surrounding LGBT persons remained an impediment to self-reporting of discrimination or abuse, and studies on bullying and violence in schools generally did not take into account the sexual orientation or gender identity of the persons involved. Pervasive societal stigma surrounding LGBT persons also prevented many from being open about their sexual orientation, and attorneys who frequently represent LGBT persons related several cases during the year in which clients were threatened with disclosure of sexual orientation. Self-censorship in the press remained an impediment to bringing LGBT issues into mainstream discourse.
The law allows transgender individuals to change their legal gender, but only after undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights Report
The city of Osaka said Wednesday it will begin issuing cards in July serving as proof of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples certified by the city authorities. The western Japanese city is set to become the eighth municipality in Japan recognizing partnerships of sexual minorities on July 9 in the absence of same-sex marriage in the country. Under the plan, couples can apply for the recognition if either party of a couple lives in the city or plans to move there. The city will facilitate for LGBT couples to live in city-run housing while urging companies to pay due consideration to such partnerships, officials said.
An emerging number of Japanese schools are introducing unisex uniforms or flexible uniform codes in an effort to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. School officials hope the move will ease the mental anguish of such students, who are usually required to wear gender-based uniforms typified by jackets with stand-up collars and trousers for boys, and sailor-type outfits with skirts for girls.
Japanese companies are increasingly integrating gender diversity policies into their central business strategies, to keep up with the global trend of harnessing the skills and purchasing power of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. last year became Japan’s first banking group to treat loan customers’ same-sex partners as a spouse at Mizuho Bank. The bank also held a life planning seminar exclusively for same-sex couples in May. Through such efforts, Mizuho aims to boost a variety of financial products for LGBT customers, the group’s managing executive officer Hidenobu Mukai said at an event earlier this month in Tokyo to promote corporate awareness of gender diversity.
While same-sex marriage has not been legalized in Japan, some firms in the country’s wedding jewelry industry have started taking steps to make their products and stores more LGBT-friendly. Primo Japan Inc. announced earlier this month that it has started to promote a “gender-free” concept in marketing its products by removing male- and female-specific labels from the descriptions of the two wedding ring brands it showcases on its website.
Awareness of the troubles transgender individuals face in the workforce is on the rise in Japan, and companies are increasingly making efforts to make the working environment more accepting, earning a favorable response both from inside the companies and from customers. The Mainichi Shimbun interviewed some of these firms about what measures were effective in making the atmosphere more accepting. "If I hadn't found this company, I probably would have given up on a career and just done part-time work," recalls a 24-year-old transgender individual who was hired by an employment agency in April 2016. They said living as a "woman" was painful, and during their job hunt, interviewers would only ask about the person's biological sex.
One of the nation’s most influential businesswoman on Monday surprised many of the country’s working women by disclosing she is in same-sex relationship, possibly a game-changing milestone in the nation’s slow but growing acceptance of sexual minorities. Kazuyo Katsuma, a 49-year-old mother of three, was on the Wall Street Journal’s list of “The 50 Women to Watch” in 2005 for gaining “legions of fans among Japanese working mothers” through the management of an online forum for working mothers.
Restroom signs for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have drawn an unexpected backlash from sexual minorities in Japan. The city of Osaka put a rainbow-colored sticker representing sexual diversity on the doors of unisex multipurpose restrooms in municipal government buildings in hopes of making it easier for LGBT people to use them. The city withdrew the measure following complaints from LGBT people. Multipurpose restrooms are designed for easy use by elderly people and people in wheelchairs, regardless of gender. An official at the Yodogawa Ward Office in Osaka came up with the idea to put the sticker on such facilities after attending a lecture by a nonprofit organization supporting LGBT people.
Sexual minorities and their supporters have paraded in central Tokyo to promote equality and greater awareness of LGBT issues. The participants in Sunday's event in the Shibuya and Harajuku districts included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They carried banners and placards with rainbow colors, a symbol of sexual diversity. The messages stressed the importance of tolerance in society. The organizer says a record 37 organizations, including companies and embassies, supported the 7th annual event. A 26-year-old bisexual woman who joined the parade says people waved to them and gave everyone a warm welcome. She says thoughtful consideration for others will help to create a better society.
Major retailers and manufacturers in Japan are beginning to pay greater attention to consumers who identify themselves as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in serving customers and developing products. According to a survey conducted by ad giant Dentsu Inc. in 2015, one in every 13 people is estimated to be a member of the country's LGBT community. The size of consumption by community members and spending by their supporters on products and services provided by companies friendly to sexual minorities is estimated at 6 trillion yen ($55 billion), Dentsu said, referring to such expenditures as "rainbow consumption" after the colors often used in LGBT social movements.
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