As the nation slowly turns its eye to the concerns and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, more companies are starting to respect sexual minorities as employees as well as consumers.

Given such changes, advertising giant Hakuhodo DY Holdings Inc. launched in June a think tank, Japan LGBT Research Institute, Inc., to cater to the newfound need among Japanese firms to learn more about sexual minorities, including support to expand into this new market.

The LGBT market is still largely uncharted territory in Japan, and there is room for companies to explore it through new services or products, institute CEO Takahiko Morinaga said.