Senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are in disagreement over whether same-sex partners of state guests should be invited to banquets hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
After LDP General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita voiced his opposition to the idea at a party meeting on Thursday, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda expressed discomfort about his remarks Friday. She stopped short though of criticizing him outright.
“Personally, as someone who values diversity, I want Japan to be somewhere where any sort of person can live freely,” Noda said at a news conference Friday.
At the same time, she said the LDP “is an open party where we can bounce diverse opinions off each other.”
At a party meeting in the city of Gifu, Takeshita said he is “opposed” to the idea. “It doesn’t fit with Japan’s traditions,” he said.
Takeshita brought up the issue of same-sex partners after claiming the Imperial Household Agency had difficulty making its decision to invite the common-law wife of then French President Francois Hollande to such a banquet in 2013.
On Friday, he expressed regret in front of reporters, saying he should not have made such a remark. But he added that discussions should be made on this issue at some time in the future.
The secretary-general of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito appeared to disagree with Takeshita on Friday.
“We’re inviting them as state guests, so it’s something that should be decided based on the thinking of their countries,” Yoshihisa Inoue said at a news conference.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Japan, with some scholars arguing an amendment to the Constitution would be necessary to make it possible. Some wards of Tokyo and cities in Japan recognize same-sex partnerships, with Sapporo becoming the first major city to have done so in June this year.
While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed caution about the subject of same-sex marriage in 2015, the LDP included in its manifesto for last month’s general election a plan to enact a law promoting understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.