Gay Japan News & Reports 2009-11

1 Japan gives citizens the green light for gay marriage abroad 3/09

2 Political shift gives hope to gays 8/09

3 Tokyo’s Gay Scene – Ni-chome in Shinjuku 2/10

4 Brief History of Gay Culture and Rights in Japan 3/10

5 Tokyo Pride to return after three years 8/10

6 Safer Sex Japanese Video 1/11

6a Survey investigating homosexual behaviour among adult men 2/11

6b Activist fighting for LGBT rights 3/11

7 Coping with disaster: Japan’s LGBT community speaks 3/11

8 Japanese LGBT/PLHIV orgs report in OK, but uncertainty remains 3/11

9 Fridae launches Shelter Project: Help those affected by Japan disaster 3/11

10 Japan’s first openly gay politician victorious in election 4/11

March 27, 2009 – PinkNews

Japan gives citizens the green light for gay marriage abroad

by Jessica Geen
Japanese nationals can now wed their same-sex foreign partners in countries where same-sex marriage is permitted. According to reports, an unnamed government official said today that the justice ministry has instructed local authorities to issue documents pertaining to marriage to gay couples planning to wed abroad. The key certificate – which states a person is single and of legal age – is necessary for citizens who wish to wed abroad but was previously denied to gay couples.

Taiga Ishikawa, of the gay support group Peer Friends, told AFP: "This is one step forward. "Gay Japanese have suffered a disadvantage… although they should be able to marry in some countries overseas."

August 27, 2009 – The Japan Times

Political shift gives hope to gays

by Mariko Kato, Staff writer
The possible power shift in Sunday’s general election signals change for many, and one minority interest group is daring to hope it will bring about the biggest change yet.
The nation’s gay and lesbian community, which has long been calling for an antidiscrimination law to protect their rights, has seen similar bills proposed and scrapped in the Diet for nearly a decade.

The likelihood that the Democratic Party of Japan, the last party to submit such a bill, will dominate the powerful House of Representatives in an alliance with the Social Democratic Party, which speaks out for homosexual rights, has raised hopes that the inertia may at last be overcome. This was echoed by Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender program at Human Rights Watch, who visited Japan last month. He met with key opposition party figures to discuss Japan’s future on issues of sexual orientation.

"There is no law in Japan that protects people who are being discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation," Dittrich told reporters on July 22. "So for instance, a landlord would evict somebody because he is gay or she is lesbian and there is no law that you can refer to for protection," he added. Dittrich himself was a publicly gay politician in his home country, the Netherlands, where he was a pioneer in securing homosexual rights.

In Japan, a government-sponsored antidiscrimination bill submitted to the Diet in 2002, but later abandoned, would have protected the rights of homosexuals along with other groups, including "burakumin," or descendants of former outcast communities such as tanners, according to Kanae Doi, Tokyo director of Human Rights Watch. The 2002 bill and another one proposed by the DPJ were both scrapped because the lower chamber was dissolved before they could be fully deliberated and voted on.

Dittrich expressed hope that similar legislation is introduced if there is a change of power in Sunday’s election. "I am very confident that a new government would want to change all kinds of policies, and this issue could very well be one of them," he said. But Dittrich may be too optimistic in thinking that if a DPJ-SDP ruling bloc replaces the Liberal Democratic PartyNew Komeito coalition, this will yield significant change.

The DPJ’s campaign platform unveiled last month indicated the issue of human rights violations based on sexual orientation is not its priority. The party said it will "aim at creating a society in which human rights are respected and take effective measures when such rights are infringed upon," without specifying the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgender people.

Satsuki Eda, who headed the team that proposed the DPJ’s version of an antidiscrimination bill in 2005, admitted the wording is vague. By custom, as the president of the House of Councilors, Eda is nominally an independent. "Although I wouldn’t want people to feel they can rest easy (if the DPJ comes to power), they can be depended upon," Eda told The Japan Times after meeting with Dittrich. Although Japan does not legally discriminate against homosexuals the way Singapore and many Islamic and African nations do, Eda said he was not comfortable claiming this means discrimination does not exist here.

The bottom line is that the issue of gay rights has been on the back burner for years and currently there are other hot political topics, particularly the ailing economy. Eda explained that both LDP and DPJ members are divided within their parties on the issue of gay rights, and the 2005 DPJ bill was abandoned partly because there were debates about the exact definition of "rights" for homosexuals. Eda said gay and lesbian issues do not immediately invite sympathy in the Diet, noting that when a law was enacted in 2003 to allow people with gender identity disorder to change the way their sex is listed in family registries, advocates of the law, including himself, had to convince other members that it would not favor gays or lesbians in particular.

"The fact that we had to say that shows that some people view homosexuals with a critical eye," he said, noting issues regarding gender identity disorder have gained more understanding in Japan.

SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima, who also met with Dittrich during his trip, agreed human rights is a sensitive topic in the Diet, and the subject of sexual orientation faces a particularly tough time as people do not necessarily feel it is relevant to them. "It is easy to feel sorry for victims of domestic violence, for example. But with homosexuals, some may feel that as long as they exist in the margins of society, that’s fine," she said. However, this vagueness could be used to pass a law, she added. "Because people are not really aware of the issue, it might be easier to pass laws without making people feel wary, since if there is a big controversy, it often makes it difficult," she said.

Discrimination against gays and lesbians is not a particularly visible issue in Japan and lobbyists are not very vocal. "Not all homosexuals want to come out, and some want to just live happily in their own way, without seeking to change the system or commit to politics," Fukushima said. If the DPJ wins Sunday, Fukushima predicts a slow but steady improvement in homosexual rights. "It won’t be, for example, that same-sex marriages will be recognized immediately. But for now we must educate people, eradicate bullying and make people understand that these problems exist in society," she said.

Dittrich was unable to meet with representatives of the LDP during his trip. But Kiyoko Yokota, counselor at the civil liberties bureau of the Justice Ministry, told The Japan Times that homosexual rights remains an important issue for the present LDP-New Komeito government. "It is very important to erase discrimination against sexual orientation, along with other discrimination concerning human rights, such as race, age and gender, and this will not change," she said.

According to Human Rights Watch’s Doi, Japan is falling behind global standards by not having an antidiscrimination law other than that protecting gender equality. "An antidiscrimination law exists almost everywhere else in the world. But in Japan, since there is no law protecting sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity or race, it is difficult for such people to prosecute," she said. Doi added that while none of the opposition parties is making human rights the focus of the campaign, she hopes the burakumin movement, a more central force with which the DPJ is more likely to cooperate, will push for an antidiscrimination bill after a shift in power.

While key lawmakers and activists see a ray of hope that the expected change in government will pose a brighter future for the gay and lesbian community, those on the ground remain cautious. "We don’t think that just because there is a change in power there will be big changes," said Masao Kashiwazaki, director of OCCUR, a nongovernmental group that counsels and gives legal advice to homosexuals and HIV patients as well as pursuing human rights. "It will be difficult if the parties don’t overcome differences and work together," he said.

There is an "ambiguous tolerance" toward homosexuals in Japan that makes it difficult to solve problems, Kashiwazaki explained. "As long as you’re quiet, people are tolerant, but the fact that homosexuals need rights is not widely recognized. Some feel that since there is no obvious discrimination as there is in the West, such as pressure from religious groups, we should not complain," he said.

According to Kashiwazaki, many who call OCCUR for advice say they feel isolated. "Matters of homosexuality are not really taught in sexual education, and it is still taboo to have a homosexual in the family or in the workplace. They need to go underground for information or to meet other homosexuals, resort to pornography or dating Web sites," he said.

Gays and lesbians in Japan face serious problems, including HIV, bullying and suicide, and the use of derogatory words related to homosexuality in everyday conversation can make them feel bullied, Kashiwazaki said. "If they hear someone saying to someone else, ‘You’re a creepy homosexual’ or ‘They’re so friendly they’re like lesbians,’ they feel as if it’s being aimed at them," he said, adding that until gays and lesbians feel OK to come out, discrimination will remain. However, Kashiwazaki said a change in government may be a defining first step on the road to more recognition. "We do feel the door will open, so when it does we have to make sure it doesn’t close again."

February 21, 2010 – Suite 101

Tokyo’s Gay Scene – Ni-chome in Shinjuku
– Rumours Suggest the Famous Area is in Serious Decline

by Mari Nicholson
Once a refuge for homosexuals, then the wildest party in town, Tokyo’s gay area of Ni-chome in Shinjuku is said to be a shadow of it’s former self.
Some of the clubs in the Ni-chome area of Shinjuku, Tokyo’s entertainment area, are reminiscent of New York’s famous bath houses of the seventies and early eighties. Many of the hotels and apartment- like buildings appear grey and uninteresting, but once inside the highly decorated lobbies of these places, one is left in no doubt as to what is on offer.

Prices in Ni-Chome, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.
Most of the “hotels” offer a fixed price, about £20 or $30, for a stay of from 10 – 18 hours during which the visitors (who come from all over Japan to enjoy what is available) can chill out in saunas, soak in Jacuzzis, and wander around watching porn flicks, “art tableaus”, or disco-dancing, before meeting up with a soul-mate. (See also Kabukicho)

The Scene at Ni-chome, Shinjuku,Tokyo.
The Ni-chome area is reminiscent of Bangkok’s Patpong, but only in that this dense and diverse concentration of clubs and bars are squeezed into a couple of blocks. They cater for a strange diversity of tastes in the entertainment houses, from bars for the obese and bars for transvestites, to bars for spankers.

Ni-chome is in Decline. Why?
The number of gay bars has fallen rapidly since 2000 and week-ends sees the area (just like Bangkok’s Patpong) awash with the families and “straights” who just come to look. The acceptance of the gay lifestyle is seen as having an effect on the area as is the alternative to cruising the bars – the internet.

But whereas a gay lifestyle is becoming acceptable, cross-dressers are still struggling,and Ni-chome comes to their rescue with clubs catering solely for them, notably the disco, Sazae. A besuited businessman will come in carrying his briefcase, but the case doesn’t contain his sandwiches for lunch or even papers to work on. Rather it will contain his wig and a dress into which he will change before dancing the night away.

The area is just a ten-minute walk away from Tokyo’s main transportation hub, making it an easy escape for men who want to hide their sexuality. Things may be different now, but there are still plenty in Japan who feel the need to keep their lives fragmented and their true feelings hidden. The opening of a new metro line has pushed up property prices. This more than anything, will sound the death knell of a district that has stood for more than half a century as the only place where gays could meet and socialize.

March 20, 2010 –

Brief History of Gay Culture and Rights in Japan

by Naoko Charity
So Far Japanese Gay Communiity has kept a Low Key Legal Approach Historically, gay relationships in Japan have not always been viewed negatively. It has been documented as early as the Heian Era (794 -1185) that is has been assimilated by Samurais and priests. However, such relationships have never gained legal status and continue to be treated as a marginalized group of society. Yet people today enjoy watching gay entertainers in the media even though they remain underrepresented legally.
Acceptance of Gay Entertainers

Both men and women, and even children, enjoy watching gay entertainers in Japan. A man who has had a sex change to become a woman is called a “New Half”. The television series called, “My Mom is a New Half” by TV Tokyo has been airing during daytime programming since January 2010. Another common term, “Onae”, is used for gay men who act effeminate. Often times, they are beauty consultants, hostesses, fashion advisors, dance instructors, artists, comedians, etc.

Many male gay entertainers, such as Ai Haruna, do quite well in show business. Haruna recently won first place in the Transvestite Miss World 2009 contest, and has been appearing in numerous popular TV shows. The entertainers are not all effeminate. One male comedian, Hard Gay (HG), is a masculine man dressed up in a tight leather suit; he gained significant popularity among Japanese viewers, however, after he clarified his heterosexuality, his popularity subsided.
Gay Culture in Temples and Among Samurais

The modern Japanese society does not seem to reject expressions of gayness and/or feminine male predisposition. In fact, gay culture has come a long way in Japan’s history.

Read Article

August 12, 2010 – PinkNews

Tokyo Pride to return after three years

by Christopher Brocklebank
The Japanese capital’s gay community and friends are preparing to party this Saturday as Tokyo Pride takes place once again after a three-year absence.
In the run up to the celebrations, the local gay community have been holding debates and there have been political theatre shows aimed at fostering a wider understanding of LGBT lifestyles in Japan.

The parade has not taken place for the last three years owing to a lack of organisational staff. Many LGBT Japanese people are apparently put off by pressure from the more conservative elements of the country’s traditional, family-oriented society. This may not be apparent to outsiders, as Japan is often portrayed as a country with a very youth-centric culture, plus a strong kitsch aesthetic.

Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, which houses some 250 gay and lesbian bars, is to host the celebrations. After Saturday’s parade, there will be a "Rainbow Festival" with food and beer stalls. There will also be a debate on the future of the gay rights movement in Japan. Since March 2009, Japanese nationals have been permitted to wed their same-sex foreign partners – but only in countries where same-sex marriage is permitted.

18 Jan, 2011 – No Source Noted

Safer Sex Japanese Video

Combining Eastern and Western holiday traditions, Shinto mythology and Japanese gay culture to advocate a very different way of wrapping gifts (condoms) for a loved one.

Little Taiko Boy’s soundtrack is a safer-sex parody of the American Christmas carol "The Little Drummer Boy" interspersed with the slow rumble of a traditional Japanese taiko drum that sounds like a massive throbbing heart beat. Against this backdrop, several men meet in Tokyo’s bathhouses, love hotels and cruising spots for intimate encounters, watched over by a glamorous drag version of Amaterasu Omikami, the Shinto goddess of the Sun played by Japanese activist and artist Madame Bonjour JohnJ. Like a queer Santa Claus, the goddess leaves each couple a condom in a bejeweled wrapper as a gift and blessing for the night.

While Little Taiko Boy’s setting is local to Tokyo, the contrasting elements woven together within the video emphasize how universal its issues are: the music brings together the modern and the traditional, the East and the West; the images depict the carnal and the spiritual, and ancient deities take up new roles in the modern world. And despite the urgency of its safer-sex message, the video not only embraces sensuality wholeheartedly, but does so with humor; after all, there is nothing "little" about either the Taiko drummer or the drum he beats.

Filmmaker Bryan Jackson made several trips to Japan in the course of developing Little Taiko Boy, working closely with Akira the Hustler and Madame Bonjour JohnJ at Rainbow Ring’s Community Center AKTA. The LGBT center and gallery takes an innovative, localized approach to community work that includes condom "Delivery Boys" who have done outreach and condom distribution in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ni-Chome district since 2003.

The ‘Goddess Edition’ condom cases that Amaterasu Omikami gifts in Little Taiko Boy are inspired by the artist designed series produced by Community Center AKTA. Jackson made the video with a grant from Art Matters, a foundation created to assist artists who make work intending to break ground aesthetically and socially.

Video link

2011 February –

Survey investigating homosexual behaviour among adult males
used to estimate the prevalence of HIV and AIDS among men who have sex with men in Japan.

Ichikawa S, Kaneko N, Koerner J, Shiono S, Shingae A, Ito T. – Nagoya City University, School of Nursing, Department of Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Control, 1 Kawasumi Mizuho-cho Mizuho-ku, Nagoya 467-8601, Japan.

Background: This study investigated the prevalence of male homosexual behaviour among adult men and of HIV and AIDS among men who have sex with men (MSM) and non-MSM in Japan. Methods: An anonymous self-administered postal questionnaire, and national HIV and AIDS notifications. Results: Same-sex sexual experience was reported by 2.0% of respondents. The prevalence of HIV and AIDS was 0.8818% among MSM and 0.0130% among non-MSM, indicating that HIV and AIDS are 68 times more prevalent among MSM. Conclusion: Our findings underestimate homosexual and HIV prevalence due to several methodological limitations. The high prevalence of HIV and AIDS among MSM in comparison with non-MSM indicates the urgent need to prioritise funding and programs targeting MSM in Japan.

March 11, 2011 – The Japan Times

Activist fighting for LGBT rights
– Toshima Ward candidate aims to pass partnership ordinance

by Natsuko Fukue – Staff writer
Harvey Milk is part of U.S. history but Japan has yet to see anyone like him 32 years after his assassination, according to Taiga Ishikawa, an openly gay candidate running for the Toshima Ward Assembly in Tokyo.
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. After becoming the city supervisor of San Francisco in November 1977, he was shot to death after 11 months in office and is remembered as a historic gay rights activist.

Ishikawa, a 36-year-old writer and activist with inside experience in politics, said he is not trying to become Japan’s Harvey Milk. But what he is aiming for as a politician is to make his neighborhood more friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and foreigners. "I know it’s a big plan, but if elected, I hope I can enact a partnership ordinance" that would allow unmarried couples regardless of gender to have equal rights as married couples, he said. Ishikawa is a former secretary to Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima and plans to run as an SDP candidate in the election, which is scheduled for April.

Under the Toshima partnership ordinance he envisions, the ward would issue a certificate to two adults who register as "partners," giving them the right to apply for ward-managed housing and hospital visitation rights. Ishikawa likes to compare the idea with the French PACS (a civil union of partners) system, which effectively gives unmarried gay cohabitants the same rights and tax advantages as married couples, but admits it may be difficult to achieve at the national level. He also wants to support gay children by giving school nurses and counselors more education on the issue.

"Data show that the suicide rate for such children is higher," he said. He added that he supports local-level suffrage for foreign residents of Japan. Now a well-known advocate for LGBT rights, Ishikawa said the first time he ever met a gay man was when he was 26. Growing up near the Jizo Dori shopping arcade in Sugamo, an area often called "Harajuku for old ladies," Ishikawa had no one to share his feelings with regarding his sexuality. At the time, a frequently discussed topic among teenage boys was female idols, Ishikawa wrote in his book "Boku no Kareshi wa Doko ni Iru" ("Where is my boyfriend?"). So he always had to have an answer ready to prevent his classmates from guessing he liked men, he wrote.

One of the things he dreaded most during his school years was that he " might mutter the name of a favorite male idol while he was asleep on a school trip," he wrote. As a result, he had to sleep later than roommates and wake up earlier as well. In Japan, gay people instantly know they shouldn’t tell anyone about their sexuality," he said, noting it is partly because the media portray gay men as comical or weird. "Coming out as a gay is not easy in Japan yet." Japanese society takes heterosexuality for granted, making it harder for those who are not to come out, he added.

"Homosexuals are perceived as strange, but I believe it is society that is strange." Ishikawa mostly kept his sexuality secret, even while at Meiji Gakuin University, where he studied human rights and law. A breakthrough came in 1999 when his father bought a computer and asked him to set up a website for his clothes shop in Sugamo. Through the Internet, Ishikawa began to realize there were a lot of people like himself out there. This led him in 2000 to make his first gay acquaintance, a university student in Yokohama. The encounter motivated him to do something for sexual minorities in Japan.

"I have three important things I want to accomplish," Ishikawa said. "First is to encourage LGBT people and connect them. Second is to give information on LGBT to heterosexual people. Third is to change politics." Ishikawa therefore joined an LGBT support group and began talking to the public. "It all happened only three months after I met the Yokohama student," said Ishikawa. While working as a member of the support group, he published "Where is My Boyfriend?" in 2002 under his real name. He also started organizing events where LGBT people could make friends and began to get involved in activities concerning legal rights for gay people.

International marriages sometimes require an official certificate to prove the Japanese applicant is unmarried, and the government used to refuse to issue such certificates to Japanese homosexuals attempting to marry in countries that permit same-sex marriages. But after Ishikawa, his support group and SDP chief Fukushima kept lobbying for change, the government in 2009 effectively allowed Japanese to marry foreigners of the same sex by issuing a new certificate that does not include a sex designation entry to fill in. "I have realized that if politics change, society will change," Ishikawa said. "By embracing diversity, I believe Toshima will be a great place to live," he said.

18 March 2011 – Fridae

Coping with disaster: Japan’s LGBT community speaks

by Sylvia Tan and Laurindo Garcia
Fridae members and community partners in Japan share their thoughts and experiences since the earthquake and tsunami hit last Friday, Mar 11.

I have some suggestions for people who live in foreign countries to help us. First, praying for safety in damaged areas. Second, help [businesses] in Japan and buy Japanese products.
– Itaru Tomita, Chief Editor, G-Men Magazine – Tokyo

Though I have not talked to many PLHIV after the earthquake, privacy and medication compliance will be the biggest challenges among them. I am worried about access to treatment.
– Toma Nemoto, member of Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS – Nagasaki

We usually have some earthquakes in Iwate so I don’t usually get scared. But the tremours on 11 March were horrifying. One of the TV programmes told us that they lasted for about five minutes. There are still many aftershocks day and night. My family and I still put clothes and socks on when we go to bed. I’ve spent my time looking at the survivors’ list and listening to a local radio to find out whether my relatives, friends, friends’ families and friends’ friends are alive. My experience is still ongoing and I’m afraid I can’t still describe them well. I don’t watch TV now because it’s more than what I can handle to see heartbreaking news in towns where I have relatives and friends and also where I used to live (I used to live Miyako.) Towns I know are completely gone in the coastal areas in Iwate. I don’t have words to describe my feelings. I feel as if my feelings are also gone.
– Azusa Yamashita, co-founder and editor of GayJapanNews who lives in Iwate, one of the worst hit areas

Rescue teams from many countries are coming and trying to help us. Lots of aid are coming from over world. We deeply appreciate them.
– Fridae member ‘TakumaJP’

I would love to help Japan as much as I can. I just got evacuated from my city in Fukushima prefecture and I worry about the people there who I have grown so close with over the last year and a half. I hope I to be able to go back to them once the nuclear problem is over.
– Fridae member ‘nardnard’

On Friday, March 11, I was at the hair salon when the earthquake struck , getting my hair highlighted in central Tokyo, so with aluminum foil in my hair and a long white gown on, my hairdresser and I , hand in hand, descended down four flights of stairs quickly to the street. I must have looked like an alien in a sci- fi movie, but none of that mattered when you feel like your life is about to end. Huge buildings were swaying and the ground beneath our feet was shaking for several long minutes. All trains had stopped running so I would be forced to walk home in the dark, not knowing how I could possibly do that, because I can’t read Japanese and didn’t have any access to any maps, which are mostly in Japanese. I also didn’t have any cell phone connection or access to a cab.

When I finally finished my hair appointment, I walked down the stairs and tried to be brave, and in that moment, to my astonishment, was my partner at the foot of the stairs. The timing of this event was unbelievable and if I didn’t meet her in that exact moment, I would have walked the streets aimlessly, hoping for the kindness of strangers and almost certain never to have met my partner in a city of 12 million people. She had walked two hours from her office, knowing I was at the hair salon and vulnerable in this situation. I looked her in the eyes, with astonishment, and said "you are my miracle" and hugged her so tightly. That night, we walked arm in arm home, for five hours, along with thousands of other people.
– An American lesbian Fridae member in Tokyo who prefers not to be identified.

Read article

19 March 2011 – ILGA

Japanese LGBT/PLHIV orgs report in OK, but uncertainty remains

(Sylvia Tan and Laurindo Garcia) – During crisis times such as this, LGBT people and PLHIV may face additional difficulties. Fridae gets in touch with LGBT/ PLHIV groups to find out how they are copinLGBT people especially those living at evacuation centres may have to keep their relationships under wraps and not be able to draw on the support of his/her same-sex partner despite the trauma they are going through. Transgender people may not be able to access medical supplies they need and may also face discrimination at evacuation centres such as using the restrooms of the gender they identify with, LGBT groups tell Fridae.

On March 11, Japan was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake – the largest ever in the country’s history. The quake and a massive 10-metre high tsunami that followed devastated dozens of cities and villages along a 2,100km stretch of the nation’s north-eastern coast. Many survivors in the affected areas have spent a week without running water, as power and fuel shortages loomed and temperatures dropped below freezing. The quake was felt as far away as Tokyo, approximately 360km south of the epicentre, with residents now facing occasional power cuts, and fuel shortage and no or very short supply of bottled water, rice, dry noodles, and other essentials althoughthere was relatively little damage reported.

According to media reports, the National Police Agency (NPA) said on Friday that the massive quake and tsunami has left 6,911 people dead and 10,316 others unaccounted for in Japan as of Friday. Japan’s public broadcaster NHK said that more than 410,000 people in 12 prefectures are living in shelters, including the worst-hit Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate. The Japanese government has evacuated residents from areas within a 20km radius from the plant and advised those within a 30km radius to stay indoors although the US government is recommending that those within an 80km radius evacuate the area.

Azusa Yamashita, who works for GayJapanNews in Tokyo and as a project researcher at the Office for Gender Equality, Iwate University, says she has been able to go to the office to work every day since the quake as her town is not sea-facing. She reports that she believes staff and volunteers of GayJapanNews to be safe. She told Fridae that there isn’t an active LGBT scene or LGBT organisations in the most affected provinces of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima as the Tohoku region is largely conservative. The largest city nearest to the epicentre is Sendai which has a population of about one million.

There are two known LGBT groups, Anego and Yarokko, operating in the city. Azusa adds that according to the information posted on Anego’s website as of 17 March, the LGBT centre is open but they are not able to get in touch with some of their members in the coastal areas in Miyagi.

Fridae’s community partners report that Yarokko, a community-based organisation that delivers HIV outreach for the gay community throughout the Tohoku area, has indicated that all their members are accounted for and no damage was sustained. However unstable communications has hampered independent verification of Yarokko’s condition and other LGBT NGOs in the area.

Fridae and its community partners are still waiting to hear from Rainbow Ring in Tokyo or Queer Film Festival team in Tokyo.

Read article

29 March 2011 – Fridae

Fridae launches Shelter Project: Open your doors to those affected by Japan disaster

by News Editor
Fridae has initiated an online project to help those seeking temporary accommodation away from the disaster-affected regions of Japan, in the wake of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant crises in the north-eastern parts of the countr A Facebook page entitled Fridae Shelter Project has been set up to allow those outside Japan and away from the disaster area to offer accommodation, and provide information and contact particulars so that those seeking temporary shelter can get in touch with them.

Fridae hopes that by launching this non-profit community service in a difficult time, the LGBT community and its allies can come forward to support those in Japan in a meaningful way by offering a solution to one of their most immediate needs. Earthquake and tsunami survivors in the affected region currently face intermittent water, electric power and gas supplies, housing shortage, damaged transport infrastructure, a major reconstruction effort, tremors and the threat of radiation contamination due to damage to nuclear reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi power plants.

Hosts of any gender, sexual orientation and from any country are welcome to participate, by simply posting their accommodation information based on a simple format described on the Facebook page. Posting of hosting information are categorised by countries on the respective "Notes" pages. Guidelines are available in English, Japanese and Chinese languages. Guests seeking shelter may respond or make enquires with the prospective hosts through their Facebook accounts. Anyone who is LGBTQ as well as their friends and family in Japan are welcome to approach the prospective hosts.

Prospective hosts and guests are at their own discretion to agree on the terms of the hosting arrangement. Individuals participating in this exercise are advised to take necessary precautions to protect private property and rights. Disclosure of addresses, phone numbers and contact information are done at one’s own risks. Fridae accepts no responsibility for any arrangements made between hosts and guests. Founded in 2001, Fridae is today Asia’s leading gay and lesbian social networking site that has connected hundreds of thousands of LGBT people across Asia and beyond.

The Fridae Shelter Project Facebook page can be accessed here: Please click on "Notes" to see latest postings by countries. Queries about this project can be sent by email. Fridae welcomes feedback, updates about local conditions and suggestions about how our community can help to provide assistance and relief to the affected. For non-Facebook users or if people wish to keep their request confidential, please email about your hosting availability or needs. We will then coordinate with you directly regarding your request.y

26 April 2011 – PinkNews

Japan’s first openly gay politician victorious in election

by Christopher Brocklebank

Taiga Ishikawa, 36, won a seat in a Tokyo ward assembly in the Japanese capital’s local elections on Sunday. He is the first openly gay person to hold office in Japan.
Mr Ishikawa told AFP: “I hope my election victory will help our fellows nationwide to have hope for tomorrow, as many of them cannot accept themselves, feel lonely and isolated and even commit suicide.”

He also said: “As a ward assembly member, I would like to reinforce support for LGBT children in schools.”

Mr Ishikawa revealed his sexuality in his 2002 book Where Is My Boyfriend?. He said: “Many of my readers told me they were isolated and that my situation in the book was so similar to theirs.” In response, Mr Ishikawa founded a non-profit organisation called Peer Friends which hosts get-togethers in various Japanese cities which allow young gay men the opportunity to meet others.