A member of parliament from a district in northern Tokyo came under fire because he said his district would “perish” if sexual minority rights were protected by law.

Japan’s birth rates are falling: In 2019 the birth rate per woman was 1.36 (compared to 1.54 children per woman in Germany). This is the sharpest decline in three decades and the lowest figure since 1899.

For a local politician of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), sexual minorities are indirectly responsible for this. The rights of LGBTIQ* people should not be protected because they cause poor birth rates, Masateru Shiraishi, chairman of the Welfare Committee of the Adachi-ku District Assembly, a community in the northern part of Tokyo, said on 25 September at the Welfare Committee’s plenary meeting.

“If all Japanese women were lesbian or all Japanese men gay, do you think the next generation of people will be born? We wouldn’t have any more inhabitants because that means there will be no more children.”

According to the Japan Times, his remark came as members of the Welfare Committee were discussing how to teach children at school about the birth and upbringing of children.

When asked, Shiraishi told the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun that he had “no intention of interfering in the life of anyone who is lesbian or gay”, but added nevertheless: “Marriage, having children and raising them in a normal way is very important for people. It is crucial, the 78-year-old said, to give the ‘right’ views to pupils in schools, because

“when LGBT people are put in the spotlight in an excessive way, children will in future lose the sense of birth and education of their children”.

Another LDP member, Mio Sugita, had offended the queer community two years ago with a similar statement. As the news magazine Sumikai reported, Sugita had described same-sex couples in an article in a magazine as unproductive for society because they cannot have children. Therefore, according to Sugita, these couples do not deserve public support.


Wave of protest and disciplinary measures

Shiraishi’s remarks triggered a public wave of protest in Japan. Yuichi Kamiya, Secretary General of a Tokyo LGBTIQ* legal association working for a legal ban on discrimination against sexual minorities in Japan, replied that anti-discrimination laws for queers had also been passed in European Union member states, which had had no effect on birth rates. “The LGBT population is not increasing or decreasing because of education,” Kamiya said. He called on Shiraishi to correct his comment. He said it was extremely problematic for someone in the public sector to have such views.

Even Shiraishi’s party, the LDP, thinks so, too. Tadashi Kaneda, secretary-general of the LDP faction in Adachi, said his colleague’s remarks were “exaggerated” and could lead to misunderstandings. The party is now discussing whether to take disciplinary measures against Shiraishi.

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  • TokyoGayPride2006: By Kenji-Baptiste OIKAWA / wikimedia.org / CC BY-SA 3.0

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