Aya Kamikawa: Why she kicks ass

  • She is the only openly transgender official in Japan at this point, and the first to seek or win elected office in Japan.
  • She won a four-year term as an independent under huge media attention, placing sixth of 72 candidates running for 52 seats in the Setagaya ward assembly, the most populous district in Tokyo.  In April 2007, she was re-elected to her second term, placing second of 71 candidates running for 52 in the same ward assembly. 
  • While the government announced that they would continue to consider her male officially, she stated that she would work as a woman. 
  • She is devoted to work for various groups, the disabled, single-parent families, homeless people to evening junior high school students, LGBT people and to improve rights for women, children, the elderly.  She strives to give support for these people and bring positive changes which would help them in society. 
  • She was also a committee member for Trans-net Japan (a self-support group for transgender people) and organised meetings and social events to give support and symposiums to raise the public awareness.
Will Japanese Couples Come Out For Marriage Equality?
A push for marriage equality is building in Japan, but same-sex couples aren’t leading the charge. J. Lester Feder reports from Tokyo.
By J. Lester Feder, Nikki Tsukamoto Kininmonth

From the outside, it’s a mystery why Okada and Usami’s stand was so lonely. Some polls suggest support for marriage equality in Japan tops 50%, and there are no religious blocs or socially conservative lobbies organized to oppose LGBT rights in the country. But one of the most striking features of marriage equality in Japan has been just how few same-sex couples are confronting their government to demand it.

But without couples to be the face of the proposal, [Aya Kamikawa, a councilwoman on the government of Tokyo] said, “I imagined it would be shot down as a very low priority if I actually brought it up because there’s no visible need for such a system.”

The reluctance of gays and lesbians to speak up was bewildering to Kamikawa, whose political career was launched out of her personal fight to be legally identified as female. While meeting with members of the Diet to push for a gender identity law, she was reportedly told by a lawmaker that she could only make her case if she went public with the cause. So, in 2003, she ran for council of Setagaya ward, the largest local government inside the city of Tokyo. She went on to win her seat with one of the highest vote totals, becoming Japan’s first transgender lawmaker. Three months after her election, the Diet unanimously voted in favor of the gender identity law.