First openly gay candidate wins in Tokyo ward

by Natsuko Fukue

Staff Writer

Openly gay candidate Taiga Ishikawa won a seat in the Toshima Ward Assembly in Tokyo in Sunday’s election, marking a historic first.

Before the 36-year-old writer and activist, no openly gay person had been elected to public office in Japan.

The Toshima race saw 53 candidates vie for 36 seats, according to the ward office.

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

Ishikawa, an advocate of LGBT rights and former secretary to Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima, published the book “Boku no Kareshi wa Doko ni Iru?” (“Where is My Boyfriend?”) in 2002 under his real name. In 2004, he founded a nonprofit group that creates chances for LGBT people to make friends.

DPJ Osaka head to resign

Kyodo
OSAKA

Shinji Tarutoko, head of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Osaka prefectural chapter, said Monday he will step down to take responsibility for the ruling party’s crushing defeat in Sunday’s local elections in the prefecture.

Tarutoko’s resignation is apparently aimed at putting more pressure on DPJ executives, including Secretary General Katsuya Okada, to step aside as criticism grows of Prime Minister Naoto Kan over the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and other issues linked to the mega-quake and tsunami.

Tarutoko, a former head of the party’s Diet affairs committee, emphasized that the was his own, saying the seats secured in the Osaka Prefectural and Municipal assembly elections “fell far short of the targets.”

DPJ members said other heads of regional chapters loyal to former party chief Ichiro Ozawa could follow suit, fueling more internal strife in the ruling party.