Japan's first out gay politician, announced her
decision to run in July's national elections as
a challenge to government ignorance. Officials
confirmed that Otsuji, 32, will be allowed to run on
the Democratic Party ticket for the upper house of
parliament. The election will be held on July 22.
In 2003, at age
28, Otsuji became the youngest politician to hold a seat
in the Osaka prefectural assembly. She was also one of only
seven women on the 110-seat body.
her four-year term, Otsuji came out publicly with the
publication of her autobiography, Coming Out: A
Journey to Find Myself. Although she did not
purposefully hide her sexual orientation during the
election campaign, her aides persuaded her to not
mention it to prevent controversy. Her decision to come out
was met with support from voters, but Otsuji has faced
ignorance and homophobia among her fellow assemblymen.
In a message on
her Web site, Otsuji said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has
failed to address sexual diversity within Japan.
"I think there is
a tendency to put forward one set of values and make
it seem as though that is the only beautiful or right way,"
Otsuji said to the U.K. newspaper The Guardian.
"But the reality is becoming more diverse. Japanese
society is not engaging with the wide range of people
living in diverse ways, in terms of nationality, race,
sex, age, and disabilities." (The Advocate)
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