Japan has its first-ever openly gay politician as a result of municipal elections held on April 24.

Openly gay candidate Taiga Ishikawa (pictured) won a seat in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward Assembly in an election where 53 candidates competed for 36 seats.

“I hope this news will give hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who still feel isolated from the society,” Ishikawa said after being elected. “I will do my best to make Toshima Ward more friendly to LGBT people, young people and foreigners.”

Ishikawa is a former secretary to Japanese Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima and published a gay-themed memoir in 2002.

He stands in stark contrast to the current governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, also an author, who has a long record of making racist, homophobic and sexist statements.

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