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by Rex Wockner
Japan’s largest opposition party has selected lesbian Kanako Otsuji as a proportional-representation candidate for the National Diet’s House of Councilors, the upper house of parliament.
The percentage of votes cast for the Democratic Party overall and Otsuji’s spot on the party’s list of proportional-representation candidates will determine if she wins election July 22.
If she does, she will become Japan’s first-ever openly gay MP.
Until April, Otsuji was an independent member of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly, to which she was elected at age 28. While in office, she worked successfully to open Osaka public housing to same-sex couples.
Otsuji came out publicly at Tokyo’s 2005 gay pride parade.
“Homosexual people have often kept silent for fear of discrimination and prejudice,” she said at the time. “By declaring I’m homosexual, I would like to highlight the problems and put an end to a vicious circle of discrimination and prejudice.”
She later published an autobiography called “Coming Out: A Journey for Finding Your True Self.”
Osaka prefecture has a population of 8.84 million, which makes it the second largest after Tokyo prefecture.