Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context
Issue 14, November 2006

Enduring Voices:
Fushimi Noriaki and Kakefuda Hiroko's Continuing Relevance
to Japanese Lesbian and Gay Studies and Activism

Katsuhiko Suganuma
  1. The decade of the 1990s was a critical period for the establishment and rapid growth of Japanese lesbian and gay studies. The bulk of works produced by writers and academics who were directly engaged in the liberation movement developed scholarship that was sometimes collaborative with and sometimes contested by those inside and outside this sphere. As recent historical research on queer[1] cultures of preceding periods by authors such as Fushimi Noriaki, Ishida Hitoshi, Mark McLelland and Murakami Takanori[2] illustrates, such recognition of the 1990s as the 'origin' of Japanese lesbian and gay studies requires further interrogation if not a complete rethinking. At the same time, as a thoroughly detailed timeline of Japanese lesbian and gay history by Fushimi illustrates, it is safe to argue that the 1990s was the era when most of the texts recognised as fundamental for Japanese lesbian and gay studies started to appear.[3] Among them, two groundbreaking and now classic and essential texts in that period, Fushimi Noriaki's Puraibēto gei raifu [Private gay life],[4]and Kakefuda Hiroko's 'Rezubian' de aru, to iu koto [On being a 'lesbian'],[5] are closely examined in this article. Via a comparative analysis of each author's theories and ideas in relation to Japanese lesbian and gay studies and activism throughout the decade, the ways in which their intelligence flourished under these social conditions are examined. Furthermore, the applicability and practicality of their theories in more contemporary milieus are also discussed.

    The 'private' intervention by Fushimi Noriaki
  2. In 1991, Fushimi Noriaki released his first book, Private Gay Life, into Japanese society. Subversively disclosing his real name as an author, his book was a milestone in terms of theoretical articulation of Japanese homo-erotic cultures in the contemporary era. As a book published by Gakuyō shobō, which had been one of the leading publishers for gender studies in Japan, Private Gay Life had a certain impact not only among the lesbian and gay communities but also a wider, if not exactly large, audience including academics and members of the general public. Since the publication of this book, Fushimi has been one of the most influential critics on issues of contemporary Japanese sexual minorities and has contributed significantly to the very establishment of the discourse through his numerous writings and activities.[6] Since Private Gay Life was the first Japanese book to take a coming-out narrative as its central theme, some tend to read or refer to this book as simply the first self-disclosure story of a Japanese gay man. Lured by the title, some readers might easily assume that the book was written based on Fushimi's gay identity politics in order to intervene in the hetero-normative sexual culture of Japan and claim the normalcy of homosexuality. In fact, this is a book about his 'private' understanding of gay identity in Japan. However, readers who speculate that the intent of this book is to simply advocate the political stance of identity-based activism will be soon astonished with his statement in the preface. In the preface titled '"Hentai" sengen' [Declarations of a 'queer'], he asserts the following:

      I am fond of 'hentai' [queer/perverted]. I respect people who would say they are 'hentai.' That is because they are those who venture to abandon the will to come closer to a standard and regularise themselves to certain norms. … I would not say 'I am "normal"!' as a member of a sexual minority called gay. Instead I would like to send the message that 'if you try to be who you really are, you are "hentai".' I feel that the word 'normal' forever places 'abnormal' at the other end and discriminates against it.[7]

  3. In this way, Fushimi unsettles readers' previously-held notions of normal and perverse. Furthermore, while Fushimi himself authored a book with the word 'gei' [gay] in its title, he denounces gay as something he does not fundamentally identify with. However, any ambiguity in his vocabulary is clarified through his articulation of a gender paradigm with regard to sexual orientation.
  4. First of all, he boldly postulates that the diversity of human sexuality can never be reduced into the binary construction of homo/hetero, or split into three such as in homo/hetero/bi.[8] In other words, he elucidates the impossibility of a dualistic conception of homo/hetero sexuality to make sense of diverse ways in which human sexuality operates. However, at the same time, in the early 1990s he was also keenly aware of the necessity of strategically employing such a dualistic understanding in order to secure the subject position of homosexuals in relation to their dominant counterpart, heterosexuals, in Japanese society. Based on such a rationale, he states that he sees an identity-based gay liberation movement as an imperative move.[9] However he explains the purpose of his book as follows:

      I categorise myself with the word 'gay' for the sake of expedience so that my book will draw the public's attention to the topic. However, the ultimate theme of this book is the escape from words such as 'gay' and 'lesbian,' 'man' and 'woman.'[10]

  5. Fushimi's scepticism toward exclusive gay identity politics comes from his understanding that the concept of homosexuality itself is constructed as a rigid dualistic reflection of heterosexuality, thereby residing within the same hetero-normative gender ideology instead of deconstructing it. Again, as Fushimi admits, he finds it necessary to at least expose the unequal social power relations between the binary oppositions through identity-based activism. Yet, he describes the goal of this activism as the deconstruction of the very foundation of that system, which Fushimi calls the 'hetero system' [hetero shisutemu].[11]
  6. Fushimi argues that no one, neither as a member of a sexual minority nor the majority, lives outside the milieu of the 'hetero-system' as long as they are a member of a society. He explains the structure of the 'hetero-system' with his 'theory of eros,' wherein eros is about 'collection of images.'[12] And the images that are fundamental in the 'hetero system' are of two kinds: 'male image' and 'female image.'[13] Although the content of 'image' varies depending on the society, the era and so forth, all eros that functions within human relations is generated through a complicated constellation of gender 'images.' And, as the term 'system' signifies, those 'images' are social artefacts that are arbitrarily constructed in order to preserve the normalcy of 'hetero-sexualism' in Japan. Therefore, 'male image' is often privileged as a subject entity in opposition to 'female image,' which functions as the former's complementary object. Fushimi is strongly critical of the all-too-typical conflation of the notion of the 'hetero-system' itself with 'hetero-sexualism.' While acknowledging that the two are intimately intertwined, Fushimi problematises any activism by gender and sexual minority groups targeting the oppressive structure of 'hetero-sexualism' alone instead of taking into consideration the intersection of it with the 'hetero-system.' For instance, Fushimi is very cautious about the path through which gay activism would gain some social recognition and legal rights for gay men without questioning the problematic point that the 'male image' itself is privileged within the 'hetero-system.' In other words, as long as male homosexuality is about the eros of desire of 'male image' for 'male image,' this allows for the utter rejection of the 'female image' and the perpetuation of gender inequality between gay men and lesbians.[14]
  7. A parallel story can be addressed in the case of women Fushimi calls rezubianisuto [lesbianists], who intentionally choose to be in a 'lesbian' relationship in order to circumvent gender oppression within patriarchal society. Fushimi asserts that although their choice might be effective in terms of deconstructing 'hetero-sexualism' to some extent, for them exclusively to privilege 'female image' in dialectical opposition to 'male image' is proof that they are still confined within the binary gender frame of the 'hetero-system,' and not even freed from the modern ideology of romantic monogamous love.[15] In short, as these two examples illustrate, Fushimi postulates that the binarily constructed group of homosexuals is indeed a minority group in relation to its counterpart, yet that does not indicate that it is emancipated from the foundation of the 'hetero-system' itself.[16]
  8. It is clear that in this book Fushimi did not take solace in just criticising how Japanese society is inherently oppressive to homosexual people. Instead, he shows how the binary of homo/hetero sexuality is arbitrarily constructed, and no one, including himself, is free from the 'hetero-system' upon which the binary is premised. This theory was indeed an intervention in the paradigm of Japanese gender studies in the early 1990s in which analysis of complex intersections between gender and sexuality had not been sufficiently articulated. Fushimi's work was useful for lesbian and gay activism in Japan in terms of acknowledging the effect of the strategic deployment of identity politics, and simultaneously grasping the limits thereof.
  9. Furthermore, instead of merely offering an objective description of his theory of eros to make sense of human sexuality, his book proposes a methodology to accomplish the goal, namely, the deconstruction of the 'hetero-system' itself. Duly acknowledging the power the 'hetero-system' has upon individuals and the erotic apparatuses that people utilise within their own relationships, he suggests it is difficult to persuade people to give up the gender 'images' that they currently desire and identify with unless the generative foundation of the system is modified. Therefore, he suggests that we need to conceive of 'eros' as a product of a complex gender 'image game,' and understand that we all are just participants in the 'game.'[17] By 'privately' and objectively doing so, he believes that the essentialness of the 'hetero-system' will be deconstructed. Through an understanding of the constructive nature of 'eros,' the arbitrariness of the rules of the game will be further elucidated; and through a series of such strategic understandings, the hegemonic rule of the 'hetero-system' will be relativised. In this regard, feminism, the gay liberation movement, lesbianism, and even transsexualism, among other identity politics, would be able to function as a part of the strategic process, yet not as a goal to achieve.[18] This proposition is nicely summed up by Fushimi:

      When we are liberated from terms such as 'man' and 'women,' 'gay' and 'lesbian' functioning within the existing 'hetero-system,' we will have a glimpse of the way that a new sexuality operates. What is needed now is not an emancipation of eros, but rather a creation of a new 'system.'[19]

  10. Reading his 'private' theory on sexuality from 1991, one cannot simply describe this book as a mere 'coming-out' story. With the depth of his analysis of, and honesty about, his own 'private' desire in the Japanese context, Private Gay Life set out a new theoretical paradigm for lesbian and gay activism to follow in the coming decade. His central argument and ideas were surely very subversive to the audience in the early 1990s when the book was first published. However, his argument's validity and aptness to the Japanese context was to be soon realised with the publication of another key text in the early 1990s, Kakefuda Hiroko's 'Rezubian' de aru, to iu koto [On being a 'lesbian'].

    On Kakefuda Hiroko's understanding of 'lesbian'
  11. Less than a year after Fushimi's book was published, the text On Being a 'Lesbian' by Kakefuda was released and became another foundational contribution to lesbian and gay studies and activism in Japan. Like Fushimi, Kakefuda articulates her analyses of gender and sexuality constructs in Japan through narratives of her own experience. As she puts quotation marks on 'lesbian' in its title, this book is about her story of what it took for her to come to terms with her identity as a 'lesbian' in Japanese society. Just as Fushimi steers clear of essentialism in his constitution of his 'private' gay identity, Kakefuda never essentialises the answer to the question of 'who is a lesbian?.' In the concluding chapter of her book she makes the following reflection:

      through writing various things [about 'lesbians'], I have stopped asking the question of 'who is a lesbian?,' and instead realised that 'I am one of the realities of being a lesbian' and obtained the means to enounce it.[20]

  12. In explaining to her readers why, as a person who romantically desires a person of the same sex, she had struggled so long with her question of 'who is a lesbian?,' Kakefuda poignantly illustrates how the asymmetry of the gender construction in Japanese society affects individuals. Chapter by chapter, she carefully demystifies twisted and distorted images of 'lesbians' that are created through the lens of patriarchal social norms. Addressing women's lack of sexual subjectivity arising from both society's patriarchal structure and its concomitant hetero-normativity, Kakefuda illustrates how and why Japanese lesbians are only visible as pornographic imagery for the male gaze.
  13. She also astutely points out that not only lesbians but Japanese women in general are denied the subjectivity necessary to own their bodies and desires, which calls attention to her scepticism about the use of the binary analytical framework of homosexuality and heterosexuality in order to understand the social situation of Japanese lesbians. She claims that although she understands the binary has an immense influence on human relations, she is not convinced that there is such a clear functional disparity between homosexuality and heterosexuality in Japanese society.[21] As she explains,

      if the concept of 'sexuality' in both the case of hetero-'sexuality' and homo-'sexuality' is already defined within a hetero-normative framework, and if we figure out that bodily contact is considered the primary index of human intimacy, it can be said that we are already blinded by a presumption [that makes us believe there is a disparity between the two] in seeking the difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality in the first place.[22]

  14. As I understand it, Kakefuda's analytical grasp of the foundations of erotic desire, which is deeply imbedded in people regardless of their sexual orientation, has a certain resonance with the notion of the 'hetero-system' that Fushimi articulates. To Kakefuda, blindness to the arbitrarily constructed binary norm facilitates the perpetuation of self-hatred and homophobia within many lesbians' psyche, or even misunderstanding among Japanese women who are ostensibly working to collaboratively deconstruct gender oppression.
  15. In a chapter titled 'Pornographic lies and feminist misunderstandings,' Kakefuda critiques feminists who try to make sense of 'lesbians' by understanding them based on a binary paradigm of sexuality. That is to say, 'lesbians' are only to be understood as people who pursue an ideology (lesbianism) in opposition to heterosexuality. We can thus see how the dominant Japanese feminism at the time was confined within the ideology of monolithic hetero-normativity. Unerringly grasping the problematics of gender asymmetry that keep the homo-hetero binary intact, Kakefuda offers an alternative explanation of women's sexuality that transcends a binary understanding of sexual orientation:

      Heterosexual women often say 'lesbians are like this, thus they are different from me,' but I cannot understand what they mean by 'like this' or 'different' in the same way that they do. The intimacy and touch that we shared when we were pre-adolescent girls, those that they feel between heterosexual women, and those that exist among women called 'lesbians' seem to me to overlap and yet blend together into a single smooth plane.[23]

  16. If Fushimi recognises the need for the deployment of strategic identity politics to intervene in the intractable structure of the homo-hetero binary, Kakefuda's book certainly demonstrates the greater urgency for and difficulty of enacting identity politics for lesbians in Japanese society. Unless people realise that female sexuality is an attributive form of feminine intimacy which is formulated in rigid relation to male-superiority, lesbians' subjectivity will remain invisible.[24] As noted above, Kakefuda explains how this almost compulsory invisibility leads to a dilemma for lesbians confronting internalised 'lesbian-phobia.'[25] She observes that in Japanese society romantic intimacies between unmarried women, as opposed to those between men, are ostensibly tolerated because such relationships between those who are unmarried and thus not considered to be full-fledged female adults do not impose any threat to the patriarchal social order. Yet, such a social milieu confines lesbians to a situation wherein they are unable to identify themselves as 'lesbians' in public and must become accustomed to lie about their own sexual desires to their families and friends. Even if they were to say outright that they were lesbians, they would not be taken seriously, as if lesbianism is merely an adolescent joke. Struggling in this multiply suppressed and silenced condition, lesbians are left with no other option but to internalise a phobia of being a lesbian: self-denial, which results in furthering their invisibility.
  17. The cover of On Being a ‘Lesbian' has only the title and Kakefuda's name on the spine, and there are no images or photos either on the front or the back, leaving a blankness that symbolises the invisibility of women who love women in the Japanese social consciousness. As Kakefuda acknowledges, she strategically employed the identity label 'lesbian' with the hope that her words would awake countless people and make them realise their blindness to the social situation of 'lesbians.' As noted above, her tactic of taking on a 'lesbian' identity at that time by no means indicated her intention to condone the arbitrary construction of the binary between heterosexuality and homosexuality. Instead she reiterates that,

      I believe it is good if I myself am able to positively accept my own desire towards women. Of course it is not satisfactory for me to simply situate myself within the binary categories of 'homosexuality-heterosexuality.' However, if I do not do that now, the taboo attached to one end of the binary will never be undone. Furthermore, if I cannot do that, it means I myself will never be free from the binary.[26]

  18. Like Fushimi's book, Kakefuda's book was essential in terms of proposing a fundamental theoretical premise and methodology for lesbian and gay activism in Japanese society in the 1990s, as well as how critical it is for activists to be aware of the intersection between the construction of gender and of sexuality. Despite the political and social significance of her book, she is humble enough to admit that what she does through her writing is just one of the many processes that sexual minorities should take to fight for justice.[27] However, it should be noted that her personal courage, devotion, sacrifice and loyalty to her own desire has made it possible for many lesbians and gay activists and others to realise the importance of Kakefuda's critical theorisation and strategising prior to the formulation of their own politics.

    Reading Fushimi's and Kakefuda's works through a culturally-specific lens
  19. It must be acknowledged that works by Fushimi and Kakefuda collaboratively set out a theoretical intervention in the binary conceptual paradigm of sexuality in the Japanese context. However, it seems safe for me to assume that some readers of this article have by now drawn certain parallels between the two authors' arguments and certain elements of western Queer Theory. As a person who grew up in Japan, yet has been trained in theory at a western academic institution, I too am tempted to read the two authors' works as Queer[28] texts through a western theoretical lens. Their criticism of a binary way of understanding sexuality in particular is also salient in texts by theorists such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler and Diana Fuss,[29] and, as Steven Seidman argues, those texts are considered to be the foundation of Queer Theory coming out of the US.[30] If one may generalise that the key paradigm of such Queer Theory places its emphasis on the concept of deconstruction and 'post'-ing of pre-existing theories of gender and sexuality, the works by Fushimi and Kakefuda indeed evidence a certain similarity.
  20. I am not alone in pointing out this parallel. Japanese scholars such as Sunagawa Hideki and Noguchi Katsuzō also find a theoretical synchronicity between Fushimi and Kakefuda's theories in the early 1990s and US Queer Theory.[31] In fact, after his first book, Fushimi started to use the term kuia, a Japanese transliteration of the English term 'Queer' to which he attached his own definition, most prominently in a subsequent book entitled Kuia paradaisu [Queer paradise] and in the popular magazine/journals he edited such as Queer Japan and Queer Japan returns.[32] Both Fushimi and Kakefuda acknowledged that their theories in the early 1990s were influenced by previously published works.[33] However, one should not conclude that their arguments were simply derived from the English texts that are now considered as the origins of US Queer Theory.
  21. Recalling his experiences of dealing with the imported concept of Queer from abroad after the mid-1990s, Fushimi stated that it was an overtly strategic move on his part to utilise the term kuia in his publications.[34] On one hand, he employed a more inclusive term kuia, equating it with the Japanese word hentai [queer/perverted] in order to incorporate not only gay men and lesbians but also other sexual minorities in his works, reflecting the fluidity inherent in the imported notion of Queer. On the other hand, by linking the term to local vocabulary and identities in his own definition, he was able to forestall the subsumption of the local subjective categories of 'gay' and 'lesbian' under an entirely borrowed notion of Queer. However, again such a shift in his choice of terminology in relation to the imported knowledge of Queer occurred after the mid-1990s.
  22. Regarding Kakefuda's work, Sunagawa argues that although he finds an exciting synchronicity between her theory and some foreign writers' theories, her analysis is based on her lived experience as a Japanese woman who loves women, rather than borrowing tout court from foreign sources.[35] There are a number of facts to support his argument. It was from around the mid 1990s that excerpts of some texts of mainstream US lesbian and gay studies were translated into Japanese and published in highbrow journals such as Gendai shisō [Contemporary thought].[36] And translations of all the theorists' books such as Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, and Butler's Gender Trouble[37] were not published until almost a decade after Fushimi and Kakefuda published their key works. Thus, rather than reflecting the imported discourse, the pair arguably laid the groundwork for its acceptance.
  23. In the US context, it took a certain amount of time in academia as well as within activist communities to realise some problematic consequences that Queer Theory would unintentionally generate in the various milieus of the US lesbian and gay liberation movement. In particular, the lack of what Seidman calls the 'politics of interest'[38] among the text-oriented Queer theorists was recognised after the subversion of Queer Theory in relation to the pre-existing identity-based lesbian and gay studies and activism led to a certain academic trend for a period since the early 1990s. However, such debates among the US academics concerning the political significance of Queer Theory were also translated into Japanese in late 1990s by a handful of scholars.[39] Thus, it would be a gross misreading to conclude that Fushimi's and Kakefuda's works are mere examples of the global dissemination of US Queer and related theories. As I argued above, and as I will elaborate in the following sections, their arguments and theories are narrated through their own real experiences of being members of a sexual minority group in Japanese society.
  24. At the same time, I must also state clearly that I have no intention of claiming the uniqueness of their work so as to glorify a distinct Japanese lesbian and gay studies or theories standing apart from the their western 'counterparts.' And by no means am I arguing that the two authors' works within the linear genealogy of Queer Theory or related disciplines represent a pioneering move. To do so would increase the likelihood that their theoretical significance and political contribution to the Japanese context might be subsumed under a discussion based on an analytical binary of Japan/the west or local/global.
  25. This is not to argue that that such a binary framework is of no use to writers publishing within English-language publications, including myself, to deconstruct the dominant western (and most often colonial) gaze. It must be recognised that the ontological framework of the non-west/west binary can be an effective tool to reveal significant synchronicities as well as distinctive attributes non-western societies possess vis-à-vis the west. Given the fact that English research on queer cultures outside the west has emerged only in the last decade or so, to hastily disdain all the aspects of the conception of the binary while privileging the deconstruction thereof might lead to the plundering of the very means to critique the still salient colonial gaze. On the other hand, as English scholarship in this area develops, the binary framework also needs to be critically contested. Eng-Beng Lim articulates the problem as follows:

      The coordinates of such a global/local, West/East binary tend to reinscribe a problematic ontological premise for international queer subjects by making the assumption that a queer, sexual Being exists on stable, identitarian grounds across time and space cohesively structured. The stability of this identitarian base is consolidated by the prominence and permeability of Western queer culture and identity.[40]

  26. Then Lim goes on to assert the need for a paradigm shift in the theorisation of global queering toward what he calls 'glocalqueering,' a way of thinking aimed at diversifying the analytical framework to conduct intercultural Queer Studies. Taking the liberty here of elaborating on his argument, I suggest that the binary approach in this area of scholarship should not be the primary mode of rendering one culture comprehensible to the people of another culture, but rather should be employed as one among a number of means to create mutual understanding. Operating under this theoretical ethic, in the following section, rather than attempting to situate these key works by Fushimi and Kakefuda on a map of western knowledge and theory, I will analyse the cultural specificities and ramifications that they evoke within the Japanese context.

    Collaborative interventions and challenges
  27. As some of the most creative and well-analysed texts in the history of Japanese lesbian and gay studies,[41] these key works by Fushimi and Kakefuda offer a critical perspective on gender and sexuality in Japanese society. However, juxtaposing these two critical texts in this paper, I am by no means arguing that one cannot read any difference between the two texts. In addition to their difference of focus—that is either on male or female gender—as a reviewer of an earlier draft of this paper aptly pointed out, the tone of narration in each of the books is quite distinct. While Kakefuda's book is written in a more earnest tone, Fushimi's book is filled with campy expressions and idiosyncratic jokes on gender and sexuality. This 'playful' nature of Fushimi's writing has now become almost a trademark for the gay writer, and it can be said that this unique characteristic is one of the reasons why he has been a prominent figure especially among popular gay media in contemporary Japan. However his narrative tone might have sounded 'less serious' to the ears of certain queer community members. As he recalls about the period when his first book came out, some activist groups pointedly ignored his work despite the fact that it was the first Japanese book focused on the coming-out narrative of a gay man.[42]
  28. It can be argued that the difference in tone between the two books reflects the asymmetry of social conditions faced by gay men and lesbians in the early 1990s. However, despite such a disparity on the surface, the synchronicity of their arguments remains evident. What is so powerful about both of their arguments is that, as Sunagawa observes, the two books had the effect of redirecting back to the readers the question of given that this is who I am, who are you in relation to me?[43] In other words, their works carefully exposed the convoluted social gender and sexuality politics in which gay men and lesbians as well as heterosexual people were confined. Such an analytical perspective on the intersectionality of gender and sexuality certainly established a foundation for subsequent developments in lesbian and gay studies in Japan.
  29. At the same time, it would be an overstatement to claim that Japanese lesbian and gay studies was single-handedly pioneered by the two writers. In other words, their theoretical innovations became possible due to the complicatedly intertwined social situation of the late 1980s and early 1990s in Japan. During that period, images of 'homosexuals'—predominately male homosexuals—were increasingly exploited in mainstream society. One of the most notorious instances was the conspiracy attempt by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare to essentially identify the HIV epidemic as a male homosexual disease in their surveillance guidelines.[44] Meanwhile, in the commercial media, caricatured feminine, generally cross-dressing and seemingly 'homosexual' men called 'Mr Lady' were often featured on mainstream entertainment TV programs, which led to a 'Mr Lady boom' designed for the gaze of a heterosexual audience.[45] Then in the early 1990s, the appropriation of gay men's imagery by the hetero-normative audience reached its peak when the so-called 'gay boom' occurred in mainstream magazines, movies, TV shows and so forth.[46] It is true that this 'gay boom' phenomenon helped the Japanese gay community to gain more social visibility in the hetero-normative culture, and, indeed, it was during this period that Fushimi's book was published. However, as Hirano Hiroaki astutely points out, the 'gay boom' phenomenon which predominantly targeted a heterosexual female audience, did not fundamentally free the gender imagery of gay men from the confines of degraded femininity, and it was, thereby, only exploiting gay men as healers for the heterosexual female audience's fatigue from dealing with male patriarchy. The depictions of gay men never deconstructed the power dynamic whereby heterosexuals are subjects and homosexuals objects.[47] Under such a social environment in which certain caricatured representations of homosexual males or homosexuality in general were disseminated, gay individuals and communities were left with no other means but to establish subjective identities that could not necessarily be conflated with the stereotypes and prejudices.
  30. It can be said that Fushimi's choice to take on the role of disclosing his own sexual orientation by strategically employing 'gay' identity was a direct consequence of the social situation at that time. Furthermore, Fushimi's caution towards exclusive gay identity politics might have arisen due in part to his awareness of paths that gay activist such as Minami Teishirō had paved since the mid-1980s. Minami, as the head of JILGA (The Japanese branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association), as well as the editor of the gay-male oriented political/community magazine Adon (1974-1996), had put his effort into the strictly identity-based liberation movement in order to politicise the issues of sexual minority rights in the public arena. However, due to the exclusivity of his political stance, he could not establish an effective activist coalition with lesbians and other sexual minorities. Even some younger members of the JILGA did not adhere to Minami's doctrine, which led them to create the organisation OCCUR (Japan Association for the Lesbian & Gay Movement) in 1987.[48] Such political struggles by Minami's gay activism might have affected the way in which Fushimi came to be critically aware of the problematic consequences of identity politics in the early 1990s.
  31. During the period in which both Fushimi and Kakefuda wrote their books, they had to be critical about the gender asymmetry within Japanese homosexual communities. Almost as if the concept of 'community' for Japanese lesbians was inconceivable back then, social discussions and perceptions about homosexuality as visible entities—no matter how problematic they were—were predominantly centred on images of gay men. It is worth recognising that, as James Welker's article on the history of Japanese lesbian community illustrates, an underground communal sense of lesbian identity started to materialise via various social groups, newsletters and independent publications from the early 1970s.[49] However, as far as the availability of printed resources and access to institutions is concerned, gay male-oriented publications and community dominated the Japanese homosexual culture in post-war Japan, in contrast to the nearly invisible social existence of lesbians. So rare was the representation of Japanese lesbians, if any sign of the lesbian community became visible, it was often exploited to titillate the voyeuristic gaze of the hetero-normative public.
  32. Considering the social environment that was faced by lesbians and gay men in the early 1990s in Japan, it seems clear that both Fushimi and Kakefuda's books were written with a keen desire on the part of the authors to create social change rather than solely conceptualising their own ideologies without any practical intent. Therefore it can be argued that their theories and ideas were constructed within the culturally specific context of Japan.
  33. After the publication of the ground-breaking books by Fushimi and Kakefuda, Japanese society saw an expansion of social visibility and spaces for sexual minorities through the political activities of numerous non-profit organisations and publications aimed at sexual minorities throughout the following decade. It is simply impossible to refer to all of them in this article. Instead, some of the influential instances are briefly introduced here in relation to the ideology and call for activism in the two books. As far as the activism of politicising the issue of homosexual rights is concerned, organisations such as OCCUR and Sukotan Project, the latter led by the prominent gay writer Itō Satoru, took by far the most radical stance. By filing a lawsuit against the Tokyo Metropolitan government in 1991 demanding the rights of homosexuals for the first time in Japanese legal history, OCCUR engaged in a massive effort to establish the notion of homosexuals as social minorities in the public minds through the employment of the tactic of strategic essential-identity politics.[50]
  34. As a symbolic occasion in the liberation movement, in 1994 the first large scale lesbian and gay parade was held in Tokyo under the direction of Minami Teishirō, who still maintained some influence within the community at that time.[51] In terms of gay men's interests, adding to one of the most influential male homosexual oriented magazines from the early 1970s, such as Barazoku (1971-2004, 2005-2006) or Sabu (1974-2001), alternative magazines with more specific sexual preferences and interests, such as Badī (1994-) and G-men (1995-) contributed to the wider dissemination of homosexual-oriented materials in the community. On the other hand, compared to the amount of commercial media targeting the interests of gay men, such media aimed at lesbians were much more limited. However, while they were short-lived and less widely circulated, commercial lesbian magazines such as Furīne [Phryné] (1995), Anīsu [Anise] (1996-97, 2001-2003) and Kāmira [Carmilla] (2002-2005), helped to develop a collective notion of lesbian identity among Japanese lesbians.[52]
  35. In a way, with the collaboration between political activism and commercial development within the lesbian and gay community, the enactment of certain identity politics seemed to be pursued throughout the decade, very much as called for by Fushimi and Kakefuda. When the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade with the largest number of participants in history was held in 2000 after a several year hiatus, the event seemed to symbolise the community's gains during the preceding decade.

    Toward the political arena: the endurance of the voices to the present day
  36. There is no question that over the 1990s Japanese lesbian and gay activism led to the amelioration of certain social conditions and situations facing sexual minorities. Compared to the time when Fushimi's and Kakefuda's books were released, the politicisation of lesbian and gay identity has advanced enough to merit calling into question the normativity of heterosexuality. And Japanese sexual minorities in recent years have come to enjoy more freedom and social recognition. However, when it comes to the question of whether such changes are adequate, one still needs to be cautious.
  37. At this point the middle of the first decade of the third millennium, the mobilisation of lesbian and gay activism has been stagnating in Japan. In the legal domain, hardly any positive steps have been taken, nor have fruitful discussions been held, at least in the Diet, concerning the rights of lesbians and gay men. There was a law enacted called the Exceptional Treatment Act for People with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in 2004 by which people with GID can officially change their sex in their family register [koseki] under certain conditions.[53] Although this law must be acknowledged as a welcome step for people with GID, the certain conditions are currently all plotted out in order to stabilise the pre-existing gender norms within the family registry system. Even the term 'disorder' [shōgai] presupposes that one's gender identity and one's physical body should be in harmony and that there are only two options, female and male. And political organisations such as OCCUR, which took the lead for politicisation of homosexual rights in the mid-90s, no longer seem to be engaged in significant activism.
  38. This stagnation of radical political campaigning for the rights of homosexuals at present might be read as proof that Japanese lesbians and gay men have gained more diverse identity categories to inhabit, to the extent that the essentialised identity emblematic of earlier activism might seem to be a burden rather than the only viable option. No doubt such an outcome itself should be appreciated for the sake of sexual minorities of Japan as now more diverse types of sexual minorities, such as bisexuals, transsexuals and transgenders, have started to be recognised. However, the decay of a certain type of radical or identity-politics-based activism in recent years should simultaneously be treated with concern, considering the fact that there is still a lack of specific national laws to either protect or support homosexual individuals or same-sex partnerships in the country.[54] Under such circumstances, I would argue, it is not productive for sexual minority communities in Japan to pursue de-politicisation of their activism in the name of diversification of their identities.
  39. This fading of the driving force behind lesbian and gay identity politics is well reflected in the struggles that homosexual oriented publications have been facing in recent years. For instance, the most long-lived gay-male-oriented magazine, Barazoku, finally had to cease its publication in 2004 due to financial difficulties. Several attempts have since been made to revive the magazine, but its future is not promising. As for magazines targeted at lesbian audiences, Carmilla, which was the only widely distributed lesbian magazine available after the end of Furīne, and Anīsu, had also ceased publication by the end of 2005. A more politically-oriented magazine for sexual minorities, Niji [Rainbow], was only able to survive for two years from its initial publication in 2002. This situation is clearly reflected in comments by gay youth in their mid-20s who participated in a 2005 round-table discussion on the younger generation's perception of what 'gay' identity means to them published in the gay-oriented magazine Queer Japan returns—a publication which, as noted above, is itself edited by Fushimi. According to them, the monolithic 'gay identity' and 'gay community' constitute only a part of their self-identification nowadays, rather than being an essential component like the situation for many of those active in 1990s gay culture.[55]
  40. This declining of the political force of lesbian and gay activism, as well as lesbian and gay individuals' lack of enthusiasm for exclusively homosexual-oriented media in recent years can be explained with reference to several social conditions of Japanese society as a whole. One of the primary factors is the exponential growth of Internet access. The Internet penetration rate in Japan has risen drastically, especially since the late 1990s.[56] Internet access has helped countless homosexual individuals to create their own spaces to share their desire with others of same sexual orientation, which once was possible only through a very limited number of magazines which were not always easily obtained. Mark McLelland observes that currently 'some Japanese gay men, whose relationships are not generally accorded public recognition, use the Internet in order to meet, network with and create sexual (and other) relationships with men who share their desires.'[57] The same observation can be made about lesbians and other sexual minorities as well, perhaps even more so in those cases considering the paucity of published media available for them relative to that of gay men. And there is no doubt that the Internet has helped Japanese queer individuals to be exposed to more diverse information about their own sexual orientation. On the other hand, such use of Internet space has also led some Japanese lesbians and gay men to situate their personal identities within the cyber-culture in lieu of collectively associating with the public or legal domains for political activism. Hirano claims that in Japanese society—where there are no laws that expressly prohibit homosexual behaviours such as the sodomy laws that have only in recent decades been discarded in many western countries—many homosexuals, especially gay men, accordingly tend to hold the perception that as long as they are able to satisfy their homosexual desire among others of same persuasion privately, it is preferable to behave as if they are heterosexuals in public.[58] In fact, Hirano made this observation before the Internet became so central, as part of his assertion of the necessity of homosexuals to disclose their own sexual orientation to the public. In terms of allowing more diverse privacy for individual's sexuality, the Internet has brought positive consequences. However, as far as the mobilisation of Japanese lesbian and gay activism is concerned, some ramifications are cause for concern.
  41. Another primary factor in the recent indifference to the politicisation of lesbian and gay identity among individuals might be related to the radical transformation of gender constructs since the early 1990s. Since the Japanese economy stagnated with a collapse of the 'bubble economy' around the beginning of the decade, traditional gender constructs in Japanese society have been transforming through numerous shifts in employment and corporation policies. Once ideal types of adult citizen, such as the sararīman [salary man],[59] a corporate-oriented, married heterosexual male, are no longer valorised as they used to be. Recently, more corporations have tended to hire a vast number of contract employees with fewer benefits and lower salaries in order to reduce the cost of human resources. Such structural shifts have made it increasingly difficult for people to pursue either of the traditional gender roles within the family structure. As a consequence, in contemporary Japanese society, more people, especially among the younger generation, tend to resist confining themselves to the traditional gender roles that are now regarded as merely imposing more social and economic burdens on their shoulders. Such resistance to, as well as de-valuation of, hetero-normative gender constructs among the younger generation are evidenced in the recent decade by the on-going decline of the birth-rate and the increasingly higher age of marriage.[60] Under such social conditions where the general public finds it favourable not to conform to the traditional hetero-normative gender ideology regardless of their sexual orientation,[61] it makes sense to observe that many queer individuals do not sense an urgent need for radical activism against an ideology already in decline.
  42. By pointing out such shifts in the Japanese social environment, I am not suggesting that Japanese society is stepping towards a utopian social condition wherein gender and sexuality construction will no longer repress human behaviours and ideologies. My point here is that such transformation of gender construction in the recent decade is assumed to be, along with the burst of the Internet accessibility, one of the factors that actually hinder the mobilisation of Japanese lesbian and gay activism to pursue further identity politics-based liberation movement.
  43. This phenomenon of political apathy within an expanding lesbian and gay culture is not unique to the Japanese context. At least lesbian and gay cultures in other economically developed nations are also experiencing a flourishing of commercial lesbian and gay cultural products in stark contrast to a stagnation or decline in politically oriented activism.[62] This contemporary state of lesbian and gay communities within those countries must be carefully examined in light of local socio-economic contexts. In the case of Japan at least, the repudiation of lesbian and gay identity requires critical attention.
  44. In fact, as Fushimi and Kakefuda astutely proposed more than a decade ago, liberation from or deconstruction of identity labels such as 'lesbian' and 'gay' can be set as the ultimate goal of activism. However, the radical politicisation of Japanese lesbian and gay identity-politics based activism only attained limited social recognition from the early 1990s. A decade and a half later, unlike other (predominantly western) nations where such political activism has a longer history, Japanese society has yet to see significant legal recognition of socio-economic rights for sexual minorities. Although Fushimi and Kakefuda might have envisioned a situation in which people would be freed from restrictive identity labels such as 'lesbian' and 'gay' in the final stage of activism, reaching that stage requires certain processes and context-specific moves such as those they courageously undertook with their books. I would argue that the recent deconstruction phenomenon salient in Japanese lesbian and gay culture is not fundamentally driven by the critical problematisation of radical identity politics in the manner that Fushimi and Kakefuda hoped for, but rather by the ostensibly 'queer-friendly' social conditions that recent Japanese society seems to provide. This is not to suggest that Japanese lesbian and gay activism should be indifferent to the ever-changing social environment. However, it is essential not to forget the necessity of subversion that Fushimi and Kakefuda demonstrated a decade and a half ago with their critical perspective on contemporaneous social conditions, which led them to formulate tactics to attain the liberation of sexual minorities.

  45. In this article, I have outlined theoretical parallels between Fushimi and Kakefuda's key works in the early 1990s based on my own understanding of the texts. It has been my intention here to employ their works to articulate a critical theory of Japanese lesbian and gay activism as well as scholarship. I have demonstrated their critical awareness of both the doubts toward a binary conception of hetero-homo sexuality as well as their keen grasp of political necessity to strategically employ essentialist identity politics. In addition to his praise for the innovative nature and completeness of the theories by both Fushimi and Kakefuda, Sunagawa argues that the subsequent Japanese scholarship on lesbian and gay studies has not yet adequately evaluated the two authors' work.[63] Although I agree with Sunagawa's assertion to a large extent, my motivation to write this article has less to do with evaluating the quality of their theories than illustrating how their theories were construed within the Japanese context, and how that might be of practical use in the present day.
  46. This focus has resulted in the relative lack of attention I give to whether the authors' theories are the equivalent of the US Queer Theory as this paper's main argument. Although such a focus might attract academic interest in cross-cultural gender and sexuality studies, I am not primarily interested in establishing whether these Japanese authors' theories are 'original' or 'borrowed,' which would position the west/non-west binary as the analytical point of departure. That is because it is more accurate to understand Japanese lesbian and gay cultures, especially in the contemporary era, as being premised upon what Fran Martin—referring to the situation in Taiwan—aptly describes as 'productive interaction among local, national, global and regional histories, discourses and practices.'[64]
  47. In summer 2005, on the very day of the thrice revived Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade, one member of the prefectural assembly in Osaka, Otsuji Kanako, came out as a lesbian to the public. It was the first time in Japanese history for there to be a publicly homosexual-identified elected official.[65] Her courageous disclosure of her lesbian identity might be perceived as just another 'coming out' story among several others given the fact that there have been a number of 'coming out' books published by Japanese authors after Fushimi and Kakefuda.[66] However, what is so crucial about Otsuji's move is that she came out as a politician to demand the political and legal improvements for the lives of sexual minorities of Japan, which has yet to be accomplished after several decades of activism, and urged society to critically examine the deep-rooted misogynistic components that are still salient both within and outside the queer community in contemporary Japan. Such activism by Otsuji is an essential effort for the future prospect of lives of sexual minorities of Japan. It can be said that Otsuji took a strategic means to raise the public's as well as the community's consciousness to the unsolved problematic social situations facing Japanese sexual minorities, even if her act might—ironically—be seen as 'old fashioned' by her peers. As Otsuji demonstrates, Fushimi and Kakefuda's choice to raise their voices in the early 1990s as well as the ways they raised them can inspire current and future Japanese lesbian and gay activists who make an effort to learn from their predecessors.


    [1] In this article, I use the term 'queer' with a lower case 'q' to refer to groups of people and cultures that can be perceived as non-normative in terms of gender and sexuality in a broad sense. Whereas such terms as 'lesbian' and 'gay' are employed when I am expressly referring to a specific social group of homosexual people.

    [2] Names of Japanese persons are given in their natural order of surname followed by given name, except in cases of authors publishing in English who use the English order. See Fushimi Noriaki, 'Gei no kōkogaku' [Archaeology of gay], in Gei to iu 'keiken' zōhanban [An 'experience' we call gay: expanded edition], Tokyo: Potto shuppan, 2004, pp. 257-380; Ishida Hitoshi, Mark McLelland & Murakami Takanori, 'The origins of "queer studies" in postwar Japan,' in Genders, Transgenders and Sexualities in Japan, ed. Mark McLelland & Romit Dasgupta, London & New York: Routledge, 2005, pp. 33-48; Mark McLelland, Queer Japan from the Pacific War to the Internet Age, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

    [3] Fushimi Noriaki, 'Gei nenpō' [Gay timeline], in Gei to iu 'keiken', pp. 366-80.

    [4] Fushimi Noriaki, Puraibēto gei raifu [Private gay life], Tokyo: Gakuyō shobō, 1991.

    [5] Kakefuda Hiroko, 'Rezubian' de aru, to iu koto [On being a 'lesbian'], Tokyo: Kawade shobō shinsha, 1992.

    [6] Murakami Takanori & Ishida Hitoshi, 'Sengo nihon no zasshi media ni okeru "otoko wo aisuru otoko" to "onnaka shita otoko" no hyōshōshi' [History of representation of 'men who love men' and 'feminised men' in post-war Japanese magazine-media], in Sengo nihon josō/Dōseiai kenkyū [Studies of drag/homosexuality in post-war Japan], ed. Yajima Masami, Hachiōji, Tokyo: Chū ō daigaku shuppanbu, 2006, pp. 519-56, pp. 545-46.

    [7] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 8.

    [8] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 11.

    [9] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 53.

    [10] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 30.

    [11] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 168.

    [12] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 167.

    [13] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 168.

    [14] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 172.

    [15] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, pp. 127-28.

    [16] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, pp. 168-69.

    [17] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 174.

    [18] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, pp. 249-50.

    [19] Fushimi, Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 250.

    [20] Kakefuda, 'Rezubian' de aru, p. 215.

    [21] Kakefuda, 'Rezubian' de aru, p. 190.

    [22] Kakefuda, 'Rezubian' de aru, pp. 190-91.

    [23] Kakefuda, 'Rezubian' de aru, p. 176.

    [24] The invisibility of Japanese lesbians in relation to not only male homosexuals but also a hetero-normative feminist movement in contemporary Japanese society was critically articulated in depth in several articles by Kakefuda. See Kakefuda Hiroko, 'Gei-sabetsu to rezubian-sabetsu wa onajimono ka—Fuchūsaiban e no ichi rezubian no shiten' [Is discrimination against gays the same as against lesbians?: A perspective from one lesbian on the Fuchū lawsuit], in Inpakushon 71 (1991):98-104; Kakefuda Hiroko, 'Rezubian wa mainoritī ka?' [Are lesbians a minority?], in Joseigaku nenpō 15(10) (1994):25-32.

    [25] Kakefuda, 'Rezubian' de aru, p. 109.

    [26] Kakefuda, 'Rezubian' de aru, p. 226.

    [27] Kakefuda, 'Rezubian' de aru, p. 231.

    [28] I use the term 'Queer' with its capitalised first letter, when I refer to the established academic discipline especially in the English scholarship in order to distinguish it from 'queer,' as I noted above, by which I refer to a diverse category of sexual and gender identifications that do not easily or comfortably fit into some constructed labels such as 'lesbian,' 'gay' and 'bisexual.'

    [29] Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990; Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge, 1990; Diana Fuss, 'Inside/out,' in Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, ed. Diana Fuss, New York: Routledge, 1991, pp. 1-10.

    [30] Steven Seidman, 'Deconstructing queer theory or the under-theorization of the social and the ethical,' in Social Postmodernism: Beyond Identity Politics, ed. Linda Nicholson & Steven Seidman, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995, pp. 116-41, p. 125.

    [31] Sunagawa Hideki, 'Nihon no gei/rezubian sutadīzu' [Japanese gay/lesbian studies], in Queer Japan 1 (1999):135-53, p. 140; Noguchi Katsuzō, 'Rezubian/gei sutadīzu,' in Dōseiai nyūmon, ed. Fushimi Noriaki, Tokyo: Pot shuppan, pp. 147-55, p. 151. An English translation of Noguchi's essay is available: Noguchi Katsuzō, 'Japanese Gay/Lesbian Studies,' trans. Katsuhiko Suganuma & James Welker, in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context 12 (January 2006), site accessed 1 February 2006.

    [32] To date, Fushimi has published Kuia paradaisu [Queer paradise], Tokyo: Shōheisha, 1996. He also edited a magazine called Queer Japan published by Keisō shobō in 1999; five issues were published before the magazine went defunct. In 2005, Fushimi started the publication Queer Japan returns, this time published by Potto shuppan.

    [33] Fushimi mentions that his theory and argument owe much to previously published materials. Yet he emphasises that his work took a stance of 'narrating his subjectivity as it is' throughout. See Puraibēto gei raifu, p. 275. However, when he discusses someone's argument or theory, he identifies the source within the body of the essay. Kakefuda also cites most references in a conventional manner, yet no references to works that can be considered as key texts of US Queer theory are found in her book.

    [34] Fushimi Noriaki, Noguchi Katsuzō '"Gei to iu keiken" wo megutte' [On 'An experience we call gay'], in Gei to iu 'keiken', Fushimi Noriaki, pp. 9-41, pp. 22-24.

    [35] Sunagawa, 'Nihon no gei/rezubian sutadīzu,' p. 135.

    [36] For instance, see the special edition, 'Rezubian gei sutadīzu' [Lesbian and gay studies] of Gendai shisō 16(6) (May 1997).

    [37] Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet, trans. Tonooka Naomi as Kurōzetto no ninshikiron, Tokyo: Seidosha, 1999; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire, trans. Uehara Sanae & Kamezawa Miyuki as Otoko dōshi no kizuna: Igirisu bungaku to homosōsharu na yokubō, Nagoya: Nagoya daigaku shuppankai, 2001; Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, trans. Takemura Kazuko as Jendā toraburu: Feminizumu to aidentitī no kakuran, Tokyo: Seidosha, 1999.

    [38] Seidman, 'Deconstructing queer theory or the under-theorization of the social and the ethical,' p. 131.

    [39] For instance, Keith Vincent, Kazama Takashi & Kawaguchi Kazuya, Gei sutadīzu [Gay studies], Tokyo: Seidosha, 1997; Kazama Takashi, Kawaguchi Kazuya & Keith Vincent, Bessatsu id ken [Identity workshop, supplement], Tokyo: Ugoku gei to rezubian no kai (OCCUR), 1997; Kazama Takashi, Kawaguchi Kazuya & Keith Vincent (eds), Jissensuru sekushuaritī: Dōseiai/iseiai no seijigaku [Practicing sexualities: politics of homosexuality/heterosexuality], Tokyo: Ugoku gei to rezubian no kai (OCCUR), 1998.

    [40] Eng-Beng Lim, 'Globalqueering in new Asia: the politics of performing gay in Singapore,' in Theatre Journal 57 (2005):383-405, p. 386.

    [41] Sunagawa, 'Nihon no gei/rezubian sutadīzu,' pp. 146-47.

    [42] Fushimi & Noguchi, '"Gei to iu keiken" wo megutte,' p. 16.

    [43] Sunagawa, 'Nihon no gei/rezubian sutadīzu,' p. 147.

    [44] Kazama Takashi, 'Sei-kenryoku to shi: Eizu no jidai ni okeru dansei dōseiaisha no hyōshō wo megutte' [Bio-power and death: on the representation of male homosexuals in the era of AIDS], in Kaihō shakaigaku kenkyū 17 (2003):33-58; Vincent, Kazama & Kawaguchi, Gei sutadīzu, pp. 124-27.

    [45] Ishida Hitoshi & Murakami Takanori, 'The process of divergence between "men who love men" and "feminised men" in postwar Japanese media,' in Intersections, Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context 12, (January 2006), site accessed 1 February 2006.

    [46] Mark McLelland, Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan , Richmond & Surrey: Curzon Press, 2000, pp. 32-37.

    [47] Hirano Hiroaki, Anchi heterosekushizumu [Anti-heterosexism], Tokyo: Pandora, 1994, pp. 23-30.

    [48] Minami Teishirō, 'Nihon no rezubian/gei mūbumento no rekishi to senryaku' [The history and strategy of Japanese lesbian and gay movement], in Kuia sutadīzu '96 [(Queer studies '96], Tokyo: Nanatsumori shokan, pp. 172-81, p. 175; Wim Lunsing, 'Japan: finding its way?' in The Global Emergence of Gay and Lesbian Politics, ed. Barry D. Adam, Jan Willem Duyvendak & André Krouwel, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, pp. 293-325, p. 304.

    [49] James Welker, 'Telling herstory: narrating a Japanese lesbian community,' in Japanstudien: Jahrbuch des Deutschen Instituts für Japanstudien 16 (2004):119-44, URL:, accessed 10 September 2006.

    [50] The lawsuit was in the courts through 1997 and resulted in a victory for OCCUR. For a detailed account of OCCUR's political activities and ideologies, see Vincent, Kazama & Kawaguchi, Gei sutadīzu.

    [51] For details of the history of lesbian and gay parades in Tokyo, see Sunagawa Hideki, 'Parēdo ga hajimatta hi' [The day a parade began], in Parēdo [Parade], ed. Sunagawa Hideki, Tokyo: Potto shuppan, 2001, pp. 186-89.

    [52] For the background on Carmilla and its positioning relative to other Japanese lesbian periodicals, see Katsuhiko Suganuma & James Welker, 'Celebrating lesbian sexuality: an interview with Inoue Meimy, editor of Japanese lesbian erotic lifestyle magazine Carmilla,' in Intersections, Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context 12 (January 2006), site accessed 1 February 2006.

    [53] See Taniguchi Hiroyuki, 'The legal situation facing sexual minorities in Japan,' in Intersections, Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context 12 (January 2006), site accessed 1 February 2006.

    [54] On same-sex partnerships in Japan, see Claire Maree, 'Same-sex partnerships in Japan: bypasses and other alternatives,' Women's Studies 33 (2004):541-49.

    [55] 'Posuto "makkī jidai" no riaritī' [The reality of the post-Macky generation], in Queer Japan returns 1 (2005):126-38.

    [56] Nanette Gottlieb & Mark McLelland, 'The internet in Japan,' in Japanese Cybercultures, ed. Nanette Gottlieb & Mark McLelland, London & New York: Routledge, 2003, pp. 1-16, p. 4.

    [57] Mark McLelland, 'Cruising for gay sex on the Japanese internet,' in Gottlieb & McLelland, Japanese Cybercultures, pp. 141-55, p. 150.

    [58] Hirano, Anchi heterosekushizumu, p. 81.

    [59] For a detailed account of gender analysis surrounding the notion of sararīman, see Romit Dasgupta, 'Creating corporate warriors: the "salaryman" and masculinity in Japan,' in Asian Masculinities: The Meaning and Practice of Manhood in China and Japan, ed. Kam Louie & Morris Low, London & New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003, pp. 118-31.

    [60] The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, 'Heisei 16 nen, jinkō dōtai tōkei geppō nenkei no gaikyō' [General condition of vital statistics, 2004 edition], URL: and, sites accessed 2, July 2006.

    [61] Yoshizumi Kyōko, 'Kojin tani shakai suēden no kazoku taisaku' [Provisions for family in single unit-based society, Sweden], in Suēden no kazoku to pātonā kankei [Family and partnership in Sweden], Tokyo: Aoki shoten, pp. 7-17, p. 8.

    [62] In the case of US, in a 1995 book Urvashi Vaid points out that despite several decades of lesbian and gay activism, the country had only given sexual minorities what she called a 'virtual equality' instead of granting full citizenship; see Virtual Equality, New York: Anchor Books, 1995. A decade later, it is an undeniable fact that US produced queer films, TV series and pornography dominate the global queer market. However, the advancement of legal protections for queer citizens of the US falls short when compared with other nations, such as a handful of European countries, Canada, and Australia.

    [63] Sunagawa, 'Nihon no gei/rezubian sutadīzu,' p. 147.

    [64] Fran Martin, Situating Sexualities: Gender Representation in Taiwanese Fictions, Film and Public Culture, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2003, p. 30.

    [65] On the same date when the revived Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade was held in August 2005, Otsuji released her auto-biography, effectively coming out as a lesbian politician. See Otsuji Kanako, Kamingu auto: jibun rashisa wo mitsukeru tabi [Coming out: A journey to find out who I really am], Tokyo: Kōdansha, 2005.

    [66] For instance, Izumo Marou, Manaita no ue no koi [Love upon the chopping board], Tokyo: Takarajimasha, 1993; Itō Satoru, Otoko futarigurashi [Two men living together], Tokyo: Tarō jirō sha, 1993; Sasano Michiru, Coming OUT, Tokyo: Gentōsha, 1995; Ōishi Toshihiro, Sekando kamingu auto: Dōseiaisha to shite eizu to tomoni ikiru [Second coming-out: Living as homosexual with AIDS], Tokyo: Asahi shuppansha, 1995; Ikeda Kumiko, Sensei no rezubian sengen: Tsunagaru tame no kamu auto [A teacher's declaration of being a lesbian: Coming out to connect], Kyoto: Kamogawa shuppan, 1999; Miyazaki Rumiko, Watashi wa toransujendā [I am a transgender], Tokyo: Neoraifu, 2000. An English version of Izumo's Manaita no ue no koi, which contains translated excerpts from the original book as well as new material, was jointly authored with Claire Maree; see Marou Izumo & Claire Maree, Love Upon the Chopping Board, North Melbourne: Spinifex, 2000.


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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