Japan’s first transgender prefectural assembly member has been elected in local elections here on April 7. The new member, Ayako Fuchigami, was designated male at birth and transitioned to a woman as an adult. Fuchigami, who ran for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, was elected to office for the first time in Sapporo’s Higashi Ward constituency in Hokkaido, Japan’s most northern prefecture. According to Japan’s LGBT association for local representatives, Fuchigami’s election marks the first time a transgender person has held a prefectural assembly position in Japan. Fuchigami was born in Saga Prefecture and completed her postgraduate studies at Hokkaido University. In 2000 she began working at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. She researched rice grain capable of being farmed in cold locations.