The long-awaited Japan 2020 Olympics is finally in full swing— or it would be if the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t forced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the event to 2021 (hopefully). The Olympics would have brought renowned athletes and thousands of tourists to the East Asian island nation, which was predicted to boost both Japan’s economy and international reputation. As many countries prior to Japan have experienced though, countries who host the Olympics often undergo scrutiny by the international community regarding their domestic policies. In the last few decades LGBT rights have increasingly become an international standard, resulting in the two previous Olympic hosts, the Rio Olympics in Brazil and the Sochi Olympics, to be met with fierce criticism due to their notorious anti-LGBT legislation. In the years leading up to the Olympics, Japan has worked to make major strides in improving LGBT rights and the public’s awareness. However, to what extent has international pressure and Japan’s desire to avoid criticism been responsible for the nation’s sudden uptick in LGBT-focused activism? While homosexuality has long been legal within Japan and recent improvements, Japan still does not legally recognize same-sex marriages due to Article 24 of the Japanese constitution, which states that “Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes…”.

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