More and More, LGBT Japanese Are Coming Out of the Closet

lgbt japan

Caption: 1 in 13 identify as LGBT (“sexual minorities”). Screencap courtesy NHK

An online survey conducted by international PR and advertising giant Dentsu has found that one in 13 Japanese people (7.7%) between the ages of 20 and 59 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). The results of the original Japanese-language survey can be requested here.

This number is an increase from the results of a 2012 Dentsu survey, when 1 in 19 respondents identified as LGBT.

The April 2015 survey results come barely a month after several large cities in Japan recognized same-sex civil unions, and as the Japanese Ministry of Education is set to introduce new curriculum promoting diversity in Japanese society.

In another April 2015 news release, advertising agency Dentsu has also identified the LGBT community as an increasingly influential demographic of consumers in Japan with an annual spending power of 5.94 trillion yen (approximately US$50 billion).

To determine that 7.7% of Japanese people identify as LGBT, on April 7 and 8, 2015, Dentsu surveyed 70,000 people over the Internet. The results were reported by age:


When asked at what age they first realized they identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, 18.6% (the most respondents) said between the ages of 13 and 15. After that, those who identified as LGBT by the age of 6 were the next most common group at 17.2%. 16% of respondents said they first identified as LGBT between the ages of 10 and 12. 9.8% of respondents first identified as LGBT after the age of 40. 56.8% of survey respondents did not reveal when they first identified as LGBT.

Around the same time, Fumino Sugiyama, a transgender man who was a former fencer on the women's national team, commented on news that Tokyo's Shibuya Ward would begin to issue certificates recognizing same-sex unions. Speaking at an April 23 press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Sugiyama said:


I want people to know that there are people who identify as LGBT (“sexual minorities,” 性的少数者) who are our neighbors.

Sugiyama, born as a female, says he has known of his male identity since he was in kindergarten and used to cry as a child because he didn’t want to wear a skirt. Sugiyama has gone on to become a successful entrepreneur, fashion model, entertainer and spokesperson for Japan's LGBT community.

Here is the full FCCJ press conference featuring remarks by Sugiyama:

Press conference at Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan – Fumino Sugiyama.

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