Japanese Politician Sugita Mio “Apologizes” for Her Discriminatory LGBTQ+ Remarks

Japanese Politician Sugita Mio “Apologizes” for Her Discriminatory LGBTQ+ Remarks

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Apology to LGBTQ people
Picture: YUMIK / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
LDP politician Sugita Mio finally apologized for years worth of discriminatory statements towards LGBTQ+ people and minorities. But why now?

LDP politician Sugita Mio is no stranger to making headlines for her blatant discrimination (and we here at UJ are no strangers to covering said headlines). Yet despite calling LGBTQ+ people “unproductive” and making other insulting comments, Prime Minister Kishida thought her fit to be appointed Parliamentary Vice-Minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. This move drew instant criticism and certainly didn’t help boost confidence in Kishida’s reshuffled Cabinet.

Now Sugita is making news not for spouting bigotry but for retracting it. At least, that’s what she wants us to believe.

After weeks of political pressure over her history of publicized discrimination, Sugita stood before her peers at the Budget Committee meeting on December 2 and apologized for her past comments [1]. Many people, however, aren’t buying her apology, and suspect she’s far from repentant.

Caving into Pressure

The pride and Japanese flags

Since the Diet session began in October, Sugita has faced renewed scrutiny for her inflammatory comments from opposition parties concerned she’s not fit for her post. It certainly didn’t help that she lied about making discriminatory statements in the first place. Her credibility was only further damaged when the Tokyo District Court ordered her to pay 550,000 yen (around $3,667) to journalist Ito Shiori for “liking” a series of tweets slandering Ito [2]. Internal affairs minister Takeaki Matsumoto Takeaki also instructed her to apologize and retract her statements.

After days of political and media pressure, Sugita finally addressed the criticism with a brief apology for her comments [1]:


“I regret my past inconsiderate comments, and have been instructed by Minister Matsumoto to retract them. As a member of the Cabinet, I will act in accordance with government policy, apologize to those who have been hurt, and withdraw those remarks.”

On December 6, she stated she would also delete discriminatory comments on her blog, including those insulting the indigenous Ainu.


杉田水脈総務政務官。指摘を受け、ブログを削除しました。  杉田総務政務官:「アイヌやマ・チョゴリなどを揶揄(やゆ)したような書き込みのブログにつきましては、これは私自身のブログでございましたので、すぐに削除をしております」  杉田水脈総務政務官は過去に繰り返してきた差別的な発言について今月2日、国会で撤回し、謝罪していました。 …

Sugita announces her intent to delete discriminatory content from her blog.

A Sincere Apology, or Just A Show?

The dominant reaction Japanese Twitter users shared in response to the news was anger. Few believed her apology was sincere. In Sapporo, around 50 people, including Ainu and sexual minorities, staged a protest calling for her resignation from office [3].


Sugita has previously shown no remorse for her past conduct, so why apologize now? Former Tokyo governor Masuzoe Yoichi says Sugita apologized just to keep Kishida’s cabinet from collapsing. “One minister after another is quitting” he stated. “The Diet is nearing the end of its session, and they still need to work on the relief bill for victims who were members of the Unification Church and other issues [4].” The main intent wasn’t to be convincing but to put an apology on record to end the deadlock.

Sugita’s weak apology will reflect poorly not only on herself but on Prime Minister Kishida, whose approval ratings are already plummeting. Kishida has brushed off calls for Sugita’s dismissal ever since her appointment in August. Following her apology, he reiterated his intention to keep her in office [1].

This has only cast more doubt on his decision-making skills. How can people, especially minorities, hold faith in the Kishida administration if he’s willing to appoint someone who’s publicly refused to take true accountability for her discrimination against said minorities? Journalist Matsuoka Soshi summed it up best in his analysis of Sugita’s apology [5]:


Some hold the opinion that ‘making an example of Sugita won’t resolve the fundamental problems.’ TO which I’d say that it’s utterly unthinkable that an administration that’s unwilling or unable to dismiss someone like Sugita will guarantee gender equality or the rights of sexual minorities.

While her apology may have temporarily calmed the waters, Sugita’s presence in the upper echelons of politics will undoubtedly continue to be a source of contention.

Why Sugita Mio’s Hate Speech Was Fully Predictable


[1] 杉田水脈政務官“差別発言”撤回 「傷ついた方々に謝罪します」 岸田首相は更迭否定. FNN.

[2] 伊藤詩織さん「指先一つでどれだけ傷つけるか、深く受け止めて」杉田議員に逆転勝訴、ネット中傷への心情明かす. Huffpost JP.

[3] 性的少数者らへの差別発言…杉田水脈政務官の更迭を求める集会 アイヌ民族の高校生も訴える 札幌市. TBS News Dig.

[4] 舛添要一氏 杉田総務政務官がLGBT発言謝罪、撤回したワケ「岸田内閣がつぶれないためにやった」. Sponichi Annex via Yahoo! Japan News.

[5] 杉田水脈氏を更迭しない岸田政権、人権や差別の問題「軽視」象徴. Yahoo! Japan News.

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Alyssa Pearl Fusek

Alyssa Pearl Fusek is a freelance writer currently haunting the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in Japanese Studies from Willamette University. When she's not writing for Unseen Japan, she's either reading about Japan, writing poetry and fiction, or drinking copious amounts of jasmine green tea. Find her on Bluesky at @apearlwrites.

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