A majority of Japanese are accepting of romantic feelings between same-sex couples but are not so tolerant when it comes to having homosexual friends, researchers say.
Although same-sex relationships are becoming more widely accepted in Japan, many are tolerant of the relationships only among unfamiliar people, the team led by Kazuya Kawaguchi, a professor at Hiroshima Shudo University, said Saturday.
The survey, conducted in March, was subsidized by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry. The door-to-door survey covered 2,600 adults ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s. Valid responses were received from 1,259.
Of the respondents, 51.7 percent said they are not uncomfortable with romantic feelings between men, versus 43.8 percent who said they are.
A total of 56 percent said they are tolerant of such feelings between women.
By gender, 41.2 percent of men were accepting of same-sex romantic feelings, compared with 63.2 percent of women.
Of those who tolerate romantic feelings between men, about 60 percent said they are uncomfortable with sexual conduct between males. In addition, some 30 percent said they would feel uneasy if they found out their male friends are gay.
“Many people are accepting of romantic feelings between same-sex people, but there is strong intolerance of such feelings when it comes to those they are familiar with and to same-sex sexual conduct,” the team said.
About 60 percent of the respondents said they would be tolerant of gender changes involving neighbors and colleagues, while some 70 percent said they would not be so if that person was a relative.
Asked about their thoughts on making same-sex marriage legal, 51.1 percent were in favor, compared with 41.3 percent who were opposed. The largest group of those opposed, 19.9 percent, said legalizing same-sex marriage was not suitable for Japan although it may be feasible overseas.
“The survey revealed public attitudes toward sexual minorities in a data form,” Kawaguchi said. He expressed hopes that the survey results will serve as a basis for future discussions.