On July 22, Taiga Ishikawa became the first openly gay man to be elected to Japan’s House of Councillors.
Winning a seat for the main opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), Ishikawa’s platform is based on introducing bills to end anti-LGBT discrimination and legalize same-sex marriage. In an Asahi Shimbun article published on July 22, he was quoted as saying, “I would like to do my best to enact both pieces of legislation.” He continued, “I want to support vulnerable people in this society as a politician.”
His 17-day nationwide campaign came to a close on the night of July 21 in Tokyo’s famous gay district, Shinjuku Ni-Chome. Supporters gathered to watch Ishikawa make speeches, greet him, and watch the election results on TV.
He tweeted: “🌈Just wrapped up my final campaign speech in Shinjuku Ni-Chome. So many people came by to chat, all with smiles on their faces. They’re all in support of same-sex marriage — a policy that will only make more people happy. Let’s make this a reality, and write down ‘Taiga Ishikawa’ on the ballot! Thank you all for your support these past 17 days. 👍 I’m incredibly grateful for everyone’s bravery.”
When the election results were announced at around 5 a.m. on July 22, supporters online and in Ni-Chome were elated.
Ishikawa received an outpouring of supportive messages.
— kaito ＜食＝命＞ (@kikikaikaito) July 21, 2019
User @kikikaikaito tweeted; “Congratulations! I’m an American living in Japan. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in my home country, and Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize it this year. Please make it legal in this country that I love, too! We have high hopes for you!”
“Congratulations! This day will go down in history with you becoming the first openly gay man elected to the National Diet. I couldn’t be happier. Your journey has just begun, and I’m wishing you the best from America. We’re counting on you!” tweeted another.
Ishikawa first came out in 2011, the same year he won an election for Tokyo’s Toshima Ward assembly. In an interview with the Thomas Reuters Foundation published on July 23, he said, “Since the early 2000s, the issue of same-sex marriage has progressed leaps and bounds.” He continued, “It will happen within the six years of my term, I am sure.”
Ishikawa is the second openly LGBT member of Japan’s National Diet, following fellow CDPJ politician and open lesbian Kanako Otsuji.