Don’t forget the conservative core that churns in Japan


The odds are long on the prospect that legislation will be passed that advances LGBTQ rights in Japan. That is a tragedy for Japanese members of that community who continue to be denied the legal rights and protections that other citizens enjoy. It is something of an embarrassment for the host of this year’s Group of Seven summit, especially after the group’s foreign ministers reaffirmed at their April meeting that they would promote the welfare of sexual minorities. The failure to make progress on a headline issue is also an important reminder of just how conservative Japan is. For all the hustle and bustle, the constant construction and churn, there is a resilient and enduring core in Japanese society. Of course, it evolves, but it’s invariably more slowly than expected. LGBTQ rights has been a hot-button issue for a couple of years and understandably so. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan ranked 34th out of 35 countries in terms of LGBTQ inclusion legislation in 2019; it was 22nd in 1999. It’s the only G7 country that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages or offer gay people protection from discrimination.

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