5,000 People Protest After Politician Calls LGBT Couples “Unproductive”

5,000 People Protest After Politician Calls LGBT Couples “Unproductive”

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Politician Sugita Mio kicked up a huff this week by labeling LGBT relationships "unproductive."

As in other parts of the world, there’s been a movement in Japan towards increased social acceptance of LGBT relationships, with local jurisdictions like the city of Saitama looking to institute laws to recognize domestic partnerships between same-sex couples.

However, the country also faces various challenges – foremost of which is its dwindling population problem. As the Japanese are marrying less and having fewer children, the average age of the population continues to increase. If current trends continue, it’s estimated that, by 2030, over 30% of the population will be over age 65. This had led to intense – and sometimes harsh – debate over how to stop this alarming trend, with the more conservative factions of Japanese society essentially badgering women to pop out more babies.

A particularly bald-faced example of that trend is the column by Sugita Mio of the Liberal Democratic Party (自民党; jimintou – the party of Prime Minister Abe Shinzou) in the monthly magazine Shinchou 45. Titled “LGBT Support Has Gone Too Far”, Sugita, an elected official in the national House of Representatives, wrote (JP link):


I wonder if people will agree to spend taxpayer money to support LGBT couples. These men and women can’t have kids; in short, they’re unproductive.

For its part, the Party has attempted to dismiss Sugita’s statement as an “individual opinion”, and has restated its commitment to “the establishment of a culture that accepts diversity”. That hasn’t been enough for around 5,000 Japanese LGBT citizens and supporters, who, according to Asahi Shinbun, gathered outside of the Party’s headquarters in Tokyo’s Nagadachou district the evening of the 27th to denounce Sugita, and compel the party to take action against her.


A 50 year old woman who came from the city of Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture, speaking on Sugita’s column, fumed, “We should honor all people just for living – not just LGBT people, but people with disabilities and the elderly as well. We shouldn’t judge people’s value by a measure of ‘productivity’.”

The reference to the disabled – which was echoed by other protestors – can be seen as alluding to a 2016 incident in the city of Sagamihara, where a man entered a care home for the disabled and killed 19 people in their sleep. While this brutal act was widely denounced throughout Japan, the murderer has also received applause from online agitators, who thanked him for relieving a burden from taxpayers. LGBT supporters seem to be riding the public’s general disgust toward this eugenic thinking, and capitalizing on the outrage over Sagamihara.

Sugita isn’t backing down, however. And she’s not without her defenders on the Japanese right, who argue that Sugita’s use of “productive” was misread, and merely meant to stir debate. However, it’s not the first time that Sugita has used the word; in a 2015 column on the same theme, she wrote:


It’s useless to handle people who are productive and not productive equally. That’s not discrimination, it’s delineation.

Sugita is said to enjoy the support of Prime Minister Abe. Between that and the party’s continued attempts to minimize the issue, it’s doubtful Sugita will be forced out of office any time soon. Meanwhile, protests continue to occur through Japan, with one planned for the evening of the 28th in Osaka.

(JP) Link: Protests Spread over Sugita’s “Productivity” Remark; Protests Outside LDP Headquarters

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

Japan in Translation

Subscribe to our free newsletter for a weekly digest of our best work across platforms (Web, Twitter, YouTube). Your support helps us spread the word about the Japan you don’t learn about in anime.

Want a preview? Read our archives

You’ll get one to two emails from us weekly. For more details, see our privacy policy