Society and Identity
In 2013, Tokyo was elected as the host of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The following year, the Russian Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics suffered from international criticisms and boycotts due to the country’s anti-gay policies. This led to the International Olympic Committee adopting an anti-discrimination clause that includes sexual orientation, which in turn has resulted in LGBT issues suddenly becoming a social and political topic in mainstream Japan. A ‘massive LGBT market’ was situated as the latest trend by private businesses, and demonstrating concern for LGBT issues became part of corporate PR strategies to advertise a company’s progressiveness and ‘diversity’. Mainstream media also aired features about LGBT activists, and from 2015 on, several municipalities started to issue certificates recognizing same-sex partnerships. However, rather than leading to an improvement in the actual rights of LGBT peoples and greater recognition of SOGI issues, the resultant ‘hypervisibility’ of LGBT rights issues and people has led to an increasing ‘invisibility’ of certain LGBT lives and rights, especially those that supposedly fail to fit these new LGBT narratives.
This panel explores problems and possibilities of contemporary queer lives and politics in Japan in light of this hypervisibility and invisibility through an analysis of political discourses, as well as representations in television and social media, manga, and contemporary literature.
Kazuyoshi Kawasaka analyses contemporary political backlash discourses against LGBT rights, which were triggered by the new ‘LGBT-boom’ and the ‘hypervisibility’ of LGBT rights issues. He discusses how certain criticism against this backlash ironically redefined and confined the issue of LGBT rights within conservative political discourses.
Claire Maree examines how the hypervisibility of ‘sexual minorities’ in contemporary media obfuscates a long and diverse history of advocacy for same-sex partnership rights, and is recreating ignorance of a ‘majority’ towards a ‘minority’.
Yuko Sasaki analyses two recent examples of autobiographical visual representations of female-female couples and discusses what kinds of gender and family norms they reproduce in the midst of seemingly positive changes with regards to LGBT rights. This leads to the question of what kinds of life remain invisible.
Stefan Wuerrer, explores how Shōno Yoriko’s most recent novel Uramizumo dorei senkyō (2018) opens up a discursive space in which the exclusionary and inclusionary mechanisms of sexual citizenship in present day Japan are critically renegotiated, and demonstrates how this discursive space can be read as a counterstrategy against the recent backlash against LGBT rights triggered by the ‘LGBT-boom’.