Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, has fired one of his aides over public anti-LGBT remarks. In the conservative country, it’s worthy of note.
Masayoshi Arai, an economy and trade official in Kishida’s staff, made several remarks last Friday that he did not want to live near or even look at same-sex couples. It was an embarrassment to Kishida, who is trying to navigate the country’s inevitable move towards legalizing same-sex marriage while not alienate an aged and conservative voting base, and who is also about to host the leaders of the other G7 nations in Japan this May. Japan is the only G7 nation which doesn’t allow same-sex marriage yet.
The same day, Kishida had said in parliament that same-sex marriage needs careful consideration because of its “potential impact” on the family structure.
There are those who think that Arai’s outburst and dismissal were staged, to make it look as though fears of a “potential impact” on families aren’t outright homophobia.
“His comments are outrageous and completely incompatible with the administration’s policies,” Fumio Kishida said on Saturday, in remarks aired by the public broadcaster NHK, even though this administration has so far refused to grant same-sex couples the right to legally exist.
57 percent of Japanese citizens support the legal recognition of same-sex unions or marriages, according to media polls. Several Japanese cities have city-specific civil union licenses, but they don’t grant the full rights of marriage. A Tokyo court in November upheld a ban on same-sex marriage based on the written laws, but noted that a lack of legal protection for same-sex families was a violation of their human rights. Same-sex couples in Japan cannot adopt one another’s children, or inherit even with a will.
The writing is on the wall. Japan will establish same-sex marriage soon, but it’s been a very grudging process. And prime minister Fumio Kishida seems to want to make sure he doesn’t alienate either side of the issue.
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