LDP to Carefully Advance Debate on LGBT Protection Bill

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—In a televised debate among party policy chiefs Sunday, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party indicated its desire to carefully advance discussions on a bill to promote public understanding of LGBT people, while opposition parties and Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, sought the bill’s enactment.

“We’d like to move the discussions forward by figuring out what wordings can win an understanding and build a consensus within our party,” Koichi Hagiuda, policy chief of the LDP, said in a program aired by Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK. The program took up the LGBT issue after Masayoshi Arai was fired on Feb. 4 as executive secretary to the prime minister for making discriminatory remarks about LGBT people and same-sex marriage.

A group of suprapartisan lawmakers in May 2021 crafted a bill that would oblige the government to draw up a basic program to promote public understanding of LGBT people. Some LDP members remain opposed to a proposed clause in the bill that says “discrimination would not be tolerated,” expressing concern that it could lead to an increase in anti-discrimination lawsuits.

In the TV program, Komeito policy chief Yosuke Takagi reiterated his party’s claim that the bill should be enacted before Japan hosts a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven major countries in Hiroshima in May this year. He said no one will suffer disadvantage due to the legislation.

At the same time, Takagi said the clause on the discrimination ban will be “the next step,” indicating a stance to tolerate a postponement of a decision on the matter apparently out of consideration for the LDP.

Akira Nagatsuma, policy chief of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said: “I hear that there is an argument within the LDP against the idea of not tolerating discrimination. That’s outrageous.”

Claiming that the LDP has been adopting a negative stance on proposals to allow dual surnames for married couples and same-sex marriage, Shun Otokita, policy leader of opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), said, “Such a stance has created distrust in politics mainly among youth.”