First Lady Akie Abe Joins Rainbow Pride Parade in Support of Tokyo LGBT Community

Akie Abe, the wife of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, ruffled some feathers over the weekend when she joined the third annual gay parade in Tokyo.

Showing her support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities, the outspoken first lady, dressed in white, gamely stood atop a float as some 3,000 participants marched through the Shibuya district for the Tokyo Rainbow Pride event on Sunday.

“I want to help build a society where anyone can conduct happy, enriched lives without facing discrimination,” Akie Abe said in a post on her Facebook page.

“I had the pleasure of spending a fun time filled with smiles. Thank you,” she added, along with several photos of her during the parade.

Akie Abe known for her liberal inclinations and often speaks her mind about social issues. She has been involved with LGBT issues since joining a commission set up by UNAIDS and the Lancet medical journal last year.

A recent survey by Kyodo News revealed that a majority of Japanese citizens don’t support same-sex unions.

Of the 1,744 respondents, 52 percent said they disagreed or somewhat disagreed with legalizing same-sex marriages. Support was lower among men—only 35.5 percent of those polled said it should be legal, compared with 48.7 percent for women.

Neither marriages nor civil unions between same-sex couples are legal in Japan while nearly three-quarters of respondents said Japanese society remain close-minded to the idea of sexual minorities.

A 2012 survey by Dentsu Innovation Institute said that 5.2 percent of 70,000 polled—aged 20 or older—identified as LGBT.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: “Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012” by Lauren Anderson/Flickr

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