J-Pop singer Shinjiro Atae publicly came out as gay at an event in front of 2,000 fans.

The 34-year-old revealed that he was gay in a heartwarming speech during a performance in Tokyo on 26 July.

“It has taken me a long time to be able to say I am gay,” the singer shared. “I could not even say it to myself. I feared that even if I could accept the truth, the world would never accept me as an artist.

“However, I’ve come to realise it is better, both for me and for the people I care about, including my fans, to live life authentically than to live a life never accepting who I truly am.”

Atae later took to Instagram to release a full statement, stating that the full speech would be posted online with English subtitles the next day.

His former bandmates and family attended the event to show their support and respect.

“I don’t want people to struggle like me,” the former member of pop group AAA told The New York Times.  

Attitudes to the LGBTQ+ community still vary in Japan

A public announcement such as Atae’s is unusual in Japan, which is currently the only G7 nation with no legal protection for same-sex unions.

Japan’s parliament has also recently come under scrutiny for passing a bill that ‘promoted LGBTQ+ awareness’ without guaranteeing any rights.

The bill had been watered down by the political right, with its impact inhibited.

However, public attitudes in Japan towards the LGBTQ+ community are becoming more accepting.

A survey conducted in November, by the Stanford Japan Barometer, found that 47.2% of the Japanese public support potential legislation to legalise same-sex marriage, while around 15.8% opposite it and 36.9% were ambivalent.

Approximately 70% of the country now allows same-sex partnerships, though partnership rights are not as secure as those granted by marriage, according to CNN.