Japan Airlines Co., Ltd. set off the “JAL LGBT Ally Charter” from Tokyo International Airport (better known as Haneda Airport) to Naha Airport in Okinawa on August 31. An annual Pink Dot event was held in Okinawa on the following day. JAL planned the first LGBT charter in Japan as part of its corporate philosophy to create an environment for all to play an active role in the society.
Pink Dot is an LGBT event which started in Singapore almost ten years ago. It aims to create a society for everyone to live together with ease. Pink Dot Okinawa is an annual event for the LGBT community: sexual minorities, their allies and supporters. The event intends to create an LGBT-friendly Okinawa by running a campaign to raise public awareness. Pink Dot Okinawa held its first event in 2013. Since then, it has attracted many participants and supporting corporations.
Issues regarding sexual minorities in Japan is not always positive. A Lower House member penned an article last year, saying LGBT people are not worthy of government assistance because they cannot bear offspring and therefore “unproductive”. Members of the Association of LGBT Municipal Representatives protested this comment. A petition was signed by many, but the lawmaker has not made official apology or given any penalty by the Party up to this day.
Meanwhile at Universities, there was a big movement towards accepting sexual minorities. Ochanomizu University, an influential national women’s university in Tokyo has announced to accept transgender students from the 2020 academic year. It will open its doors to transgender individuals who identify themselves as female but are recorded male in the family register. Other prestigious women’s universities in Japan are told to be planning to change admission policies in order to accept transgender students.
It is only fair to accept various sexuality and gender identity within the society since they are crucial elements of life. Learning and accepting diversity is necessary to create an unprejudiced, open-minded society. This is not only important for sexual minorities, but for the whole society, as mutual understanding and respect play significant roles for establishing a safe and healthy community.
Large corporations such as JAL can create significant impacts, which gathers both public attention and mass media. More efforts on creating an LGBT-friendly society like JAL’s charter is required to spread the idea of accepting sexual diversity. And hopefully, we will see more events or campaigns for youths too, who are in distress about sexuality or gender identity.
(This interview was originally published on Zenbird Media.)