Tag Archives: Japan

United States Navy Adds Japan As Military Assignment With Benefits To Same Sex Married Couples


The United States Navy now will provide military benefits to gay couples stationed in Japan after previously denying dependent status to same-sex spouses there, according to defense officials. The change came after U.S. and Japanese officials agreed to an interpretation of the status of forces agreement between the two nations, concluding that the term “spouses” applied to all individuals who are legally married to Department of Defense personnel.

The Navy announced its decision saying in a notice to personnel that it had added Japan to its list of overseas assignments for same-sex couples. The move came after the Washington Post published an article exposing how gay service members and their spouses often miss out on U.S. benefits while living abroad.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a directive in August ordering the military to treat all legally married couples equally for purposes of federal benefits, ensuring that the Pentagon complied with a Supreme Court ruling this year that overturned a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The American Military Partners Association, a gay-rights group, described the Navy’s decision as “welcome news” but noted that the armed forces still do not treat same-sex spouses equally at many duty stations abroad.

As of this writing the U.S. Navy has only made Japan and Guantanamo Bay available as overseas assignments for gay couples.

“Pink Dollar” Shopping App Debuts In Japan – Gay Money To Gay Friendly Businesses

Paul Ramscar has created a mobile phone shopping “app” called the “Pink Dollar” for use in Japan that is a lot more than just another snippet of smart phone software: it is a social equality-changer that will help end discrimination against gays and lesbians.

It’s not just an app, there is a bigger cause here,” said the former investment banker who hails from Britain and moved to Hong Kong in 2007.

Ramscar believes the software — soon to be launched on Apple iPhones and eventually Android devices — will break down cultural barriers in a city while benefiting the community and LGBT friendly establishments.

“Having lived in Europe, the culture was very open. In London, for example, there is Soho which is a gay area. You can be open, be free; walking around holding hands, there are no problems,” Ramscar said. “In Hong Kong you can’t really do that.”

Users will rate businesses’ LGBT-friendliness with a scale from light to hot pink. A hot pink rating is the friendliest. Those that receive bad reviews will be known and lose LGBT business.

Evan Steer, who has listed a restaurant and a bar with the app, believes it will make a difference.

“At the end of the day, money talks and where money flows, it can influence policy,” he said.

The LGBT market worth is estimated to be that of around $2-3 trillion globally a year.


EXCLUSIVE – U.S. Embassy to Hold “LGBT Pride Month” Reception for U.S. and Japanese Business Leaders

U.S. Ambassador to Hold  “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” Reception for U.S. and Japanese Business Leaders 
by Tokyo Guest Poster Jason Kendy

It was approximately a year ago when Hillary Clinton issued a State Department directive to overseas U.S. embassies: find ways to reach out to local populations regarding LGBT issues. It was part of a plan  to do with raising of awareness of LGBT issues worldwide and the importance of foreign countries embracing thier LGBT communities and to  demonstrate U.S. support overall on LGBT Equality.

I was skeptical to say the least.

Until yesterday that is, when I received by snail mail a personal (embossed no less!) invitation from U.S. Ambassador John Roos to visit his residence for a reception honoring LGBT Pride Month. Huh, wha? Is this the United States we’re talking about?

Seems ‘ol Hillary has been cracking the whip, making sure a directive doesn’t remain simply that and instead results in actual steps. The embassy did its homework as well— casting far and wide for the guest list. Word is they have invited not only U.S. business leaders here in Tokyo, but also executives from Japanese companies with sexual orientation non-discrimination policies (Nomura is a biggie that comes to mind) as well as companies making an actual gay marketing push (Softbank, Google Japan, Alfa Romeo Japan, some domestic beverage makers).

I contacted the embassy to suggest they include a recently elected openly gay assemblyman here, as well as some of the more effective political activists in the Japanese community.

As a 25-year resident of Japan, I can only hope the reactionary Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara hears about all this! The old coot is an unspeakable bigot from way back who never ceases to anger foreign and domestic communities alike with his intolerant views.

It says a lot to people like Ishihara, to the prime minister, and to Japan’s business community that the nation’s closest ally by far is opening up its ambassador’s residence specifically for this event.

Well done, Madame Secretary and Mr. President.

**Jason Kendy, a gay U.S. citizen, leads corporate communications at a major European financial institution in Tokyo. He left the U.S. for Tokyo just after college during the Reagan years and soon realized he had no intention of returning to the anti-gay environment of his birthplace. He would love to see the U.S. amend its immigration laws to recognize the validity of his 12-year relationship with his Japanese partner—but certainly is not holding his breath. You can follow Jason’s personal musings at @jkentokyo on Twitter.

Thousands Turn Out For Toyko, Japan’s Rainbow Gay Pride Parade

Almost 3000 participants turned out this year for one of two Tokyo Gay Pride Parades that will be held there this year.  Tokyo Rainbow Pride (TRP) which was held yesterday and also Tokyo Pride which will be held on August 11th.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride was established in May 2011.  TRP’s grassroots philosophy also focuses on the celebration of the diversity of sexual minorities, spanning the full spectrum of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) rainbow, hence the name of the group. Their goal is also to spread the message that LGBT rights are human rights, with a focus on creating a sustainable event, celebrated annually, in which the number of participants increases year on year, as seen in gay-friendly cities around the world.

“We thought we needed another parade to create dynamism,” Inui, the director of TRP’s marketing, explains. .”

Waving rainbow-coloured flags and banners, foreign and Japanese campaigners  marched in colourful carnival and samurai warrior outfits through the capital’s entertainment and shopping district of Shibuya.

“Compared with that of New York or London, Japan’s awareness of sexual minorities  is quite low,” said Sayaka Kato, another  spokeswoman for the TRP organization. “I’m afraid Japan has yet to have a culture of accepting diversity.”

The group hopes to stage a gay pride parade with 50,000 participants within  the next five years by expanding its networks among not only Japanese but  foreign residents.

Wataru Ishizaka, an openly gay politician in Japan noted that a number of sexual minorities in the country still hesitate to take  part in events in support of LGBT rights for fear of discrimination.