The MP came from the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Hakubun Shimomura, a former Education Minister in the Japanese government has proposed the idea of reforming the country’s constitution in order to legalise same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Japan, however more and more areas are giving legal recognition to same-sex partnerships.
On NKH Public TV, Hakuban told a meeting of local LDP activists: “It is important to proceed with debate without any taboo, including of the idea that a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman.”
However, despite reports that most Japanese citizens aged between 20-50, including most married straight women, support same-sex marriage, others in the party voiced their discontent at Hakuban’s words.
The Asahi newspaper reports Keiji Furuya, a former Cabinet Minister as saying: “One should not lightly make comments such as revising the constitution to recognize same-sex marriage.”
Despite Hakuban’s idea of altering the Japanese constitution to allow same-sex marriage, the country’s first openly LGBTQ lawmaker, Kanako Otsuji, said she didn’t feel reform was necessary as the constitution doesn’t explicitly outlaw same-sex marriage.
“I think the goal is to shake up the opposition,” she told Reuters. Making reference to a marriage equality bill her party proposed in June, she added: “If they agree with same-sex marriage, they should agree with our bill.”
Gon Matsunaka, the head of the Pride House Consortium, agreed with Kanako’s views on the constitution, saying: “The constitution did not envision same-sex marriage when it was written…but it was not prohibited.
“Society and the world have changed and it is the responsibility of the legislature to pass a law in line with that.”
Upon his election earlier this year, Taiga Ishikawa, the country’s first openly gay male lawmaker, vowed to make same-sex marriage legal in the country before the end of his first term.
After winning his seat, Ishikawa said at his campaign office in Tokyo: “I was calling for the acknowledgement of LGBT people in the election. A lot of people all over Japan plucked up their courage to vote for me. This acknowledges that we are here.”
When he spoke to Reuters shortly after his election, he told them: “Since the early 2000s, the issue of same-sex marriage has progressed leaps and bounds. It will happen within the six years of my term, I am sure.
“It has been incredibly empowering to the Japanese LGBT community to see the growing acceptance overseas of same-sex marriage. I think we’ve got a breakthrough now and I plan to move the conversation (on same-sex marriage) forward.”