Fighting For Recognition in Japan


When 13 LGBTQ couples sued the Japanese government earlier this year, arguing for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, it made headlines around the world as a historic moment in the country’s journey toward equality. But for the couples involved, it’s been a long journey – and one that legal experts say may last many more years. The 24-year-old activist Soshi Matsuoka, founder of the human rights organization called Fair, is one of the campaigners behind the scenes. In a country where prejudice is still prevalent, Soshi has worked to publicize the landmark case and to create new guidelines around LGBTQ reporting in the media. As many as 60% of LGBTQ students report experiences of verbal or physical bullying at school and many chose not to come out publicly. During a meeting at a cafe in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, Soshi described what it’s like to be young, gay and outspoken in a conservative country.

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