See More on Facebook

Economics, Politics

Japanese firms solidify LGBT policy

Japanese companies are increasingly integrating gender diversity policies into their central business strategies.


Written by

Updated: June 19, 2018

Japanese companies are increasingly integrating gender diversity policies into their central business strategies, to keep up with the global trend of harnessing the skills and purchasing power of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

Mizuho Financial Group Inc. last year became Japan’s first banking group to treat loan customers’ same-sex partners as a spouse at Mizuho Bank. The bank also held a life planning seminar exclusively for same-sex couples in May.

Through such efforts, Mizuho aims to boost a variety of financial products for LGBT customers, the group’s managing executive officer Hidenobu Mukai said at an event earlier this month in Tokyo to promote corporate awareness of gender diversity.

“We received quite a big response [to the loan service], which was a fresh reminder of how significant it was as a social issue,” Mukai said.

“By listening to the voices of our customers, we hope to realize more financial services one by one,” he said.

Japan’s domestic market for LGBT customers is growing and is now estimated to be worth about ¥6 trillion, prompting companies to expand their businesses targeting the market. Two nationwide surveys conducted in recent years show about 8 percent of the population consider themselves to be LGBT.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. recently moved to a new headquarters with a gender-neutral restroom on each floor. Starting in 2016, the drugmaker has worked to ensure rights for employees who are sexual minorities.

“To promote a true sense of inclusiveness, it’s necessary to focus on what kind of diversity we have, not only on gender differences,” Emiko Akatsu, who is in charge of the firm’s development and organization capability, said at the Tokyo event. It was organized by the Lawyers for LGBT & Allies Network (LLAN), a Tokyo-based advocacy group of lawyers and legal practitioners.

To help LGBT employees pursue career paths and work styles in line with their personal needs, Takeda Pharmaceutical has held sessions to educate its employees on such matters as how to deal with the difficulties sexual minorities face in the workplace. It has also introduced a social media platform where employees who are especially active in helping LGBT colleagues can discuss relevant matters.

Akatsu stressed the importance of raising the awareness of every employee. “Not all of our 7,000 or so employees are on the same level” of understanding LGBT issues, she said.

Overall, however, corporate Japan’s efforts still lag behind those of other industrialized countries. A survey by the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) last year shows about 90 percent of its member companies and organizations were aware of the need to make efforts on LGBT issues, but less than half of them actually did so.

Under such circumstances, some young LGBT job hunters have had to give up on their occupations of choice and even had job offers revoked, according to Mika Yakushi, a founder of the nonprofit organization Rebit, which supports LGBT job-seekers.

This attitude among companies “could ruin ideal match-ups of skilled individuals with companies,” Yakushi said at the event held at the United Nations University in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

Last year, Keidanren worked out its first guidelines on LGBT issues, proposing actions to be taken, such as allowing applicants to choose whether to indicate their gender on recruitment forms.

At the event, U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour described Japan as a very “challenging” place for sexual minorities.

“There is no reason why corporate Japan shouldn’t become one of the most welcoming environments [toward LGBT individuals] by the time the [2020 Tokyo] Olympics [and Paralympics] start,” he said. The Olympic Charter articulates prohibition of any kind of discrimination, including that based on sexual orientation.

Yakushi said, “It’s important to work on [LGBT] issues in a sustainable manner, so that 2020 won’t be merely the peak of our activities.”Speech



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Japan News
About the Author: The Japan News is published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the largest circulation in the world.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Economics, Politics

South Korea PM’s Japan visit a chance to mend ties

The two countries have not seen eye to eye after a trade dispute. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon kicked off a three-day visit to Japan in the hope that a meeting with his Japanese counterpart will pave the way for improvements in the two countries’ strained relations. Before heading to Tokyo, Lee said he hoped South Korea and Japan would foster harmonious and mature relations despite difficulties, speaking with Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine, who saw Lee off at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. “I don’t expect that this visit will resolve everything but it will become an opportunity to take a step forward,” Lee said. Lee described Japanese Emperor Naruhito as a “warm and friendly” person, recalling their encounter at the World Water Forum in Brazil in March last year. On Tuesday, Lee attended Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Palace, which was followed


By The Korea Herald
October 23, 2019

Economics, Politics

Mahathir warns of possible trade sanctions on Malaysia amid US-China trade war

From a Reuters report in Straits Times. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday (Oct 21) that his exports-reliant country could be hit with trade sanctions amid rising protectionism highlighted by the United States-China tariff war. Tun Dr Mahathir did not mention the source of possible sanctions on the South-east Asian country, but said he was disappointed that proponents of free trade were now indulging in restrictive trade practices on a “grand scale”. “Unfortunately, we are caught in the middle,” he told a conference in the capital Kuala Lumpur, referring to the US-China trade war. “Economically, we are linked to both markets and physically, we are also caught in between for geographical reasons. There are even suggestions that we ourselves would be a target for sanctions.” The US and China were two of the three biggest export dest


By The Straits Times
October 23, 2019

Economics, Politics

Nepal needs development, but not by coercion

Reimagining Nepal and developing it warrants a broad outlook that listens to its people and shows regard for their displeasure. The country’s obsession with bulldozers and excavators as a symbol of development reached an eerie new high yesterday as a viral video sent a chill down people’s spines. In the name of building a road in Dashrath Chand Municipality in Baitadi (roads are synonymous with development in Nepal), an excavator was seen gouging into the land even as locals protested and pelted it with stones. Read: Excavator operator and three others detained for investigation in Baitadi As the excavator operator pressed forward using brute force in a disoriented manner, the massive machine’s toothed bucket knocked down a woman to the


By The Kathmandu Post
October 23, 2019

Economics, Politics

S. Korea grapples with gender discrimination in workplace

Despite it’s high economic developments, critics say that South Korea has to improve workplace equality. South Korea has seen its female employment index improve steadily over the past 10 years, but continues to struggle with gender equality when it comes to parental leave and consequent career breaks, data showed Monday. Unlike in most developed economies which tend to see the employment rate of women in their 40s peak and start declining in the 50s, Korea has seen women in their late 30s and early 40s — the prime age for childbirth and childcare — being pushed out of the labor market. All seven of the so-called 30-50 club count


By The Korea Herald
October 22, 2019

Economics, Politics

Border clash with India leaves 7 dead in Pakistan

Kashmir is becoming an untenable boiling point. At least six civilians and a Pakistani soldier were killed as Indian troops resorted to “indiscriminate and ruthless” shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), officials said on Sunday. Officials said that nine other civilians were injured, adding that this was the highest death toll in 2019 in a single day of Indian shelling from across the dividing line. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) notified through a tweet that one soldier had been martyred in the exchange of fire while two others were injured. ISPR added that in response to unprovoked ceasefire violations by India in Jura, Shahkot and Nauseri sectors, nine Indian soldiers were killed while several ot


By Dawn
October 21, 2019

Economics, Politics

Survey finds two-thirds oppose military spending

Military expenditure has become a hot button issue in Thailand. Nearly two-thirds of citizens want the government to spend more on health and social security, according to a recent Super Poll survey. Assistant Professor Noppadon Kannika, director of the Super Poll Research Centre, said 1,069 people were quizzed about the budget for fiscal 2020 currently before the House. He said 65.9 per cent felt a greater share of the budget should be allocated to health, while 64.9 per cent believe more should go to education, 59.8 per cent to job provision and another 59.8 per cent to security in the quality of life. Less support was expressed for spending on national security (54.8 per cent), transportation and road repairs (50.8 per cent) and small-medium business promotion (48.2 per cent). Asked about their political leanings, 67.2 per cent of respondents said they were “in


By The Nation (Thailand)
October 21, 2019