Some 2,500 people marched in a gay pride parade in Tokyo on Sunday, vowing to transform a low-profile campaign for the rights of sexual minorities into a major movement in Japan.
The crowd, mainly from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as their supporters and sex workers, paraded through the capital’s entertainment and shopping district of Shibuya.
Waving rainbow-colored flags and banners, foreign and Japanese campaigners marched in colorful carnival and samurai warrior outfits.
It was the first parade organized by Tokyo Rainbow Pride, a private organization formed last year which aims to support the rights of sexual minorities.
“Compared with that of New York or London, Japan’s awareness of sexual minorities is quite low,” said Sayaka Kato, a spokeswoman for the organization.
“I’m afraid Japan has yet to have a culture of accepting diversity.”
The group hopes to stage a gay pride parade with 50,000 participants within the next five years by expanding its networks among not only Japanese but foreign residents.
Wataru Ishizaka, 35, who as an openly gay politician in Japan is a rarity, noted that a number of sexual minorities in the country still hesitate to take part in events in support of LGBT rights for fear of discrimination.
“Japanese sexual minorities are still concerned about their exposure to the public,” said Ishizaka, a local Tokyo politician, after participating in the parade.
A message from Ayumi Hamasaki:
I’m so happy that my song has been chosen because ever since I was young, I have been able to see the various sides of life in Nichome [the gay district in Shinjuku]. Have a lovely closing ceremony for the parade ♡ RT @Tokyo_R_Pride: We think your video celebrates the variety of love, including same sex love, and so this is the main reason why we think “You are beautiful” is an appropriate song for us to use as our theme.
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