Tokyo on Sunday saw its first full Pride parade in four years, with participants calling for more progress as Japan prepares to host the 49th G7 summit next month.
The parade, which reportedly drew a crowd of 10,000 — including foreigners — took place on the streets of downtown Shibuya, the same site of the last event in 2019.
Participants carrying rainbow flags seized the moment to celebrate small wins for the LGBTQIA+ community. Since 2019, Japanese municipalities allowing same-sex couples to enter into partnership agreements have reportedly increased from 26 to around 300.
However, those agreements have limitations, and Japan as a whole remains the only G7 country to outlaw same-sex marriages and civil unions. Marchers said Tokyo should keep up.
“Japan is really far behind,” a man using the pseudonym Himama told Reuters. “We will fight until the entire country has same-sex marriage.”
Himama added that he thinks the government is “both pretending to see us and pretending not to.”
Lawmakers are currently trying to expedite a bill that would promote understanding of LGBTQIA+ people, but some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic party are stalling discussions, as per NHK.
In February, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida fired an aide who sparked outrage for saying he does not want to live next to LGBTQIA+ couples and that citizens would flee the country if Japan ever legalized same-sex marriage. However, he appears to be lukewarm about such marriages, saying the ban is “not unconstitutional.”
“I believe I do not have a sense of discrimination (on the issue). And I have never stated I’m against it,” Kishida said last month, as per AP News.
Some polls suggest that the Japanese population has become more accepting of same-sex marriage.
A 2019 survey shows that almost 70% of married women approve its legalization, while an earlier poll shows that about 90% of those in their 30’s or younger are in favor, according to Kyodo News.
“The fact that rules remain unchanged even though this many people are showing support is making it difficult for the people concerned to lead their lives,” said Fumino Sugiyama, one of the two-day parade’s organizers, as per The Mainichi.
Japan recently hosted the first-ever Pride 7 Summit, where global LGBTQIA+ activists and leaders met to discuss current issues and policy recommendations.
One outcome was a communique that will be submitted to governments ahead of next month’s G7 summit in Hiroshima, The Japan Times reported.
Sugiyama hopes Japan will make a change before the summit to avoid embarrassing itself.
“Japan is the only participating [G7] country that has no marriage equality or anti-discrimination law. I want it to push forward change so that it will not disgrace itself to the world as the host country,” Sugiyama said.