Society and Identity
This paper discusses how contemporary political backlash discourses against LGBT rights have ironically influenced pro-LGBT rights discourses in Japan.
In 2018, political backlash discourses against LGBT rights, triggered by a new political visibility of LGBT issues, have started to gain attention and have provoked public controversy in Japan. In May, right-wing media and twitter accounts targeted placards by participants of the Tokyo Pride Parade that criticised Prime Minister Abe and Japan’s Emperor System. They demanded to ‘de-politicise’ and disconnect LGBT issues from left wing politics and left-wing political parties. In July and September, Sugita Mio, a member of PM Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, published articles in the opinion magazine Shincho45, insisting that LGBT people do not procreate, therefore the government should not spend any tax-payer’s money on them. What was notable in this controversy is that the following public discussion of her arguments, was dominated more by criticism by ‘conservative’ politicians and opinion leaders than by left wing politicians and intellectuals.
Through reviewing the history of LGBT rights discourses and backlash discourses against gender equality in the last 20 years in Japan, this paper shows that similarities exist between contemporary anti-LGBT rights discourses and anti-feminist discourses 20 years ago. It explores how the failure to counter the conservative backlash against gender equality decades ago still defines LGBT rights discourses. Finally, this paper analyses how what appears as the inclusion of LGBT issues into the political mainstream in reality confines them to conservative discourses of family, gender and sexuality.