LGBTQ Situation in Japan Today

LGBTQ in Japan Today Situations

Backward Gender Equality

Japan is one of the most developed countries, yet one of the least responsive to gender equality. Even today, women’s rights are neglected. The wage gap between men and women is huge, and the low percentage of women in management positions is appalling.

Not even married couples are allowed to have separate surnames, and except in special cases, wives must take their husbands’ surnames. Only women are subject to the complicated procedure of changing their family name. The same procedure occurs in the case of divorce. This is a clear indication of the low status of women.

marriage rings

So what about consideration for sexual minority?

In the case of gay and lesbian couples

Unfortunately, consideration for sexual minorities is far from adequate in Japan today, as even women are not adequately catered for. Same-sex marriages are not recognized on a municipal level.

Instead, many local governments have adopted a “partnership system”. This system has been introduced in many municipalities since 2015, and even in Tokyo, one of the world’s leading cities, it finally started in November 2022. Unlike same-sex marriage, however, this system has no legal effect, although a certificate of partnership is issued. Nor does it solve the problem of inheritance. Nevertheless, as of September 2022, more than 3,000 couples have taken advantage of this system.

Ridiculously, the government thinks same-sex marriage will destroy the current family system!
Even though multiple polls show that more than a majority of people say they are in favor of same-sex marriage.

The Case of Transgender People

The Japanese system does not fully recognize the rights of transgender people either.

To change one’s gender, one must be at least 20 years old, not married, and have no minor children. In addition to these requirements, they must lose the reproductive capacity of their original sex and have genitalia similar in appearance to those of the gender they are transitioning to. This external requirement is a very high hurdle for the parties involved, both in financial terms. Despite the conditions that require surgery, especially in the case of Male to Female, the surgery cannot be performed in Japan and must be performed overseas. None of these conditions can be said to take human rights into consideration.

Although there has been some debate, the voices of transgender people, who are even more of a minority among sexual minorities, are not easily heard.

Student life in Japan difficult to come out

school in japan
school room in Japan

Most junior high and high schools in Japan adopt school uniforms. While there are some negative aspects to that in itself, I believe it is generally a good system. The problem is that most school uniforms are gender-segregated and girls’ uniforms are skirts. Some schools offer the option of pants, but only a small percentage of students choose to wear them. When I was in high school, pants were not even an option, and I actually saw people who looked uncomfortable wearing skirts.

In Japanese student life, there is a tendency to make distinctions between men and women. Under such circumstances, it is inevitable that people find it difficult to express their discomfort with their own gender. According to a 2022 survey, about half of teenage sexual minorities have considered suicide in the past year. A high percentage of them actually commit self-harm or attempt suicide because they are unable to talk to anyone about it.

In Japan, it is difficult to say that the rights of sexual minorities are recognized. There are probably other sexual minorities in the world who are in the same difficult position and who have won their rights.