Same-sex marriage campaigner and local government politician Taiga Ishikawa has made Japanese history by becoming the first openly gay man to be elected to the Japanese Parliament, also known as the National Diet.
Ishikawa was elected to the Upper House of the Diet on Sunday, winning a seat for the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
Ishikawa had previously been the first openly gay person to run for the leadership of a Japanese political party when he challenged for the top spot at the opposition Social Democratic Party.
Ishikawa had previously won a local government position for the Social Democratic Party in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward but left the Social Democratic Party for the Constitutional Democratic Party in February last year, receiving its endorsement to stand as a candidate in November.
He came out publicly in 2002 at the age of 28 through a memoir, Where is my Boyfriend? And has since become one of the most well known openly gay people in Japanese public life.
Through his activism, Ishikawa had previously helped to lobby the Japanese government to allow Japanese citizens to marry foreigners of the same sex in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
The Constitutional Democratic Party has pledged to introduce a bill to remove discrimination against LGBTQI people under the law in Japan and also to introduce a marriage equality bill.
“I would like to do my best to enact both pieces of legislation,” Ishikawa told the Asahi Shimbun after learning of his victory.
“I want to support vulnerable people in this society as a politician.”
Japan had already elected its first lesbian MP, Kanako Otsuji, to its House of Representatives in 2017.