Kanako Otsuji

nihongo|Kanako Otsuji|尾辻 かな子|Otsuji Kanako|born December 16 1974 in Nara is a Japanese LGBT rights activist and former member of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly (April 2003–April 2007). One of only seven women in the 110-member Osaka Assembly, Otsuji represented the Sakai-ku, Sakai City constituency.

Early life

As a schoolgirl in Kobe, Otsuji was an Asian Junior karate champion, then later enrolled at Seoul University to study Korean and tae kwon do. She lost by TKO to Yoriko Okamoto in 1999. She had hoped to go to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 but was unsuccessful in making the national team. She returned to Japan and enrolled at Doshisha University in Kyoto, where she first became interested in politics.

Career

Otsuji stood for election as an Independent in April 2003, at 28 becoming the youngest person ever elected to the Osaka Assembly. She later joined Rainbow and Greens, a new Japanese political coalition dedicated to developing an alternative society based on ecological politics, participatory political ideas and decentralisation.

Sexuality

In August 2005, Otsuji published an autobiography nihongo|"Coming Out: A Journey to Find My True Self"|カミングアウト~自分らしさを見つける旅|Kamingu auto - Jibun rashisa o mitsukeru tabi, and in doing so came out as Japan's first lesbian politician, the day before 2005 Tokyo Pride.

In 2005, Otsuji was instrumental in bringing about a legislative change that allows same-sex couples to rent housing from the Osaka Prefectural Housing Corporation, a privilege previously reserved for married couples. Since same-sex marriages are not recognised under Japanese law, gay couples in Osaka had previously found it impossible to rent public housing.

In March-April 2006, Otsuji attended International Lesbian and Gay Association's world conference in Geneva.

In June 2006, Otsuji visited the United States on a trip sponsored by the International Visitor Leadership Program of the US Department of State. During her visit she met representatives from the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Association of LGBT Community Centers, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Freedom to Marry and the Stonewall Democrats.

In June 2007, Otsuji held a public wedding ceremony in Nagoya with her partner Maki Kimura, although same-sex marriages are not legally recognised in Japan.

Otsuji did not stand for re-election in April 2007. Her first term in the Osaka Assembly expired on 29 April 2007, but in July 2007 she appeared on the official candidate list of the Democratic Party of Japan, becoming the first-ever openly gay serious contender for election to the National Diet. [cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/06/20/japan.gay.reut/index.html?iref=newssearch|title=First gay candidate runs in Japan|publisher=CNN Turner Broadcasting System|accessdate=2007-07-19|date=20 June 2007] Otsuji received 38,230 votes, far short of securing the seat [cite web|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUST26591220070730|title=Japanese gay woman loses bid for parliament seat|publisher=Reuters|accessdate=2007-08-01|date=29 July 2007] , so there have been no openly gay elected officials in Japan since her retirement from the Osaka Assembly.

References

External links

* [http://www.otsuji-k.com/english.html Kanako Otsuji's official site — The Lesbian Politician]
* [http://www.ok-otsuji.org Kanako Otsuji's election campaign site for National Diet] ja icon
* [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20050911x2.html Japan Times — Lesbian politician Kanako Otsuji talks about gender issues in Japan]
* [http://www.japanmediareview.com/japan/blog/People/711/ Japan Media Review — Osaka Legislator 'Comes Out' in Autobiography]
* [http://transnews.exblog.jp/2404012 TransNews Annex — Japan's first openly gay politician speaks up for nation's silent minorities — IHT/Asahi]
* [http://www.rainbownetwork.com/fun/detail.asp?iData=24087&iCat=104&iChannel=20&nChannel=Fun Rainbow Network — Heroes and Villains: Kanako Otsuji]
* [http://www.gayrussia.ru/en/support/detail.php?ID=5420 GayRussia — Japanese LGBT activists stand up for Human Rights of Russian LGBT]
* [http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=980 Bay Area Reporter — Japanese politician opens closet doors]
* [http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/features/archive/news/2006/05/20060508p2g00m0fe012000c.html Out of the closet: Japan's transsexuals gain freedoms, but still face barriers]
* [http://www.global.greens.org.au/japan.html Global Greens — Japan : What is the Rainbow and Greens?]
* [http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-4557.html — Article on Otsuji's wedding in Pink News]
* [http://www.fridae.com/v5/newsfeatures/article/?articleid=2007&currentpageno=1&viewarticle=1&searchtype=section&cat=&title=otsuji - New Beginnings for Gay Movement: Kanako Otsuji at Fridae.com (Empowering Gay Asia)]
* [http://gayjapannews.com/index.files/japanzine_20061201.png— Japanzine - The Lesbian Politician]


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