Japanese politician slammed as 'dinosaur' after claiming LGBT education would mean 'no children'

Kaori Sato, independent candidate running for the upcoming upper house election, holding a rainbow flag, waves as Hiroshi Taniyama (R), gay supporter of Sato from Nakano LGBT Network Nijiiro, speaks during a campaign for the July 10 upper house election in Tokyo, Japan, July 2, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

A local politician representing a district in central Tokyo has refused to retract or apologise for claiming the ward would cease to exist if a local ordinance was passed requiring schools to teach students about same-sex families .

Masateru Shiraishi, chairman of the Adachi Ward welfare committee, made his remarks at a meeting last month and they have since provoked widespread condemnation online, with posters criticising him as a “dinosaur” guilty of hate speech.

“If L [lesbians] and G [gays] spread to Adachi Ward completely we will have no residents because it means there will be no children,” he said during a debate about the proposed law.

Shiraishi, 78, later told the Mainichi newspaper: “If LGBT people get focused on in an excessive manner, then children will lose their sense of the need for having and raising more children in the future. Schools must teach the importance of normal marriage and having and raising children.”

Shiraishi, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was issued a warning by the assembly speaker and his own party but remained defiant.

“The way that people receive my comments will be different,” he said. “I, for example, am offended by all the opinions that I hear from the Japanese Communist Party. If the parties involved are unhappy, then that is fine.”

The backlash on social media was swift, with Shiraishi’s comments condemned as hate speech that should disqualify him from public office .

One Twitter user suggested local politicians should be obliged to attend a town hall meeting with LGBT residents to hear their grievances and proposals about ways to make the community more harmonious.

A handout photo. Masateru Shiraishi, chairman of the Adachi Ward welfare committee.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

Another Twitter user wrote: “Homophobic lawmakers should perish.” Another called for Shiraishi to “[attend] re-education or he will only repeat the same thing”.

On the Japan Today website, one poster wrote: “This dinosaur should just disappear. He is one of the reasons why Japan is stuck in the past.”

Other messages noted that Japan has a population crisis and a falling birth rate that pose serious challenges, but posters insisted homosexuality was not the cause.

“It is because of the horrific memories Japanese people have about their childhoods in this society,” one poster wrote. “Once you are past 12 years old, you have no more fun and you become another robot for the rest of your life. That, and the low salaries and long, unpaid overtime hours.”

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Another poster wrote: “Perhaps looking for a way to improve the lives of your constituents rather than being a homophobe would be a good idea as a politician.”

Yuichi Kamiya, secretary general of the Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation, also refuted the connection.

“Anti-discrimination laws for LGBT people have been enacted in European Union member countries, but this has not lowered their birth rates,” he said.

“The LGBT population does not increase or decrease because of education,” he said, adding Shiraishi should either leave office or retract his remarks.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.