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Kanako Otsuji (尾辻 かな子 Otsuji Kanako?, born December 16 1974 in Nara) is a Japanese LGBT rights activist and former member of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly (April 2003–April 2007). One of only seven women in the 110-member Osaka Assembly, Otsuji represented the Sakai-ku, Sakai City constituency.

Early life

As a schoolgirl in Kobe, Otsuji was an Asian Junior karate champion, then later enrolled at Seoul University to study Korean and tae kwon do. She lost by TKO to Yoriko Okamoto in 1999. She had hoped to go to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 but was unsuccessful in making the national team. She returned to Japan and enrolled at Doshisha University in Kyoto, where she became interested in politics.


Otsuji subsequently stood for election as an Independent in April 2003, at 28 becoming the youngest person ever elected to the Osaka Assembly. She later joined Rainbow and Greens, a new Japanese political coalition dedicated to developing an alternative society based on ecological politics, participatory political ideas and decentralisation.


In August 2005, Otsuji published an autobiography Coming Out: A Journey to Find My True Self (カミングアウト~自分らしさを見つける旅 Kamingu auto - Jibun rashisa o mitsukeru tabi?), and in doing so came out as Japan's first lesbian politician, the day before the 2005 Tokyo Pride parade.

In 2005, Otsuji was instrumental in bringing about a legislative change that allows same-sex couples to rent housing from the Osaka Prefectural Housing Corporation. This was a privilege previously limited to married couples. Since same-sex marriages are not recognised under Japanese law, gay couples in Osaka had previously found it impossible to rent public housing.

In March–April 2006, Otsuji attended International Lesbian and Gay Association's world conference in Geneva.

In June 2006, Otsuji visited the United States on a trip sponsored by the International Visitor Leadership Program [1] of the US Department of State. During her visit she met representatives from the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Association of LGBT Community Centers [2], the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Freedom to Marry and the Stonewall Democrats.

In June 2007, Otsuji held a public wedding ceremony with her partner Maki Kimura in Nagoya, although same-sex marriages aren't legally sanctioned in Japan.

File:Kanako Otsuji and a campaign car for Councillors election, 2007 by m-louis.jpg

Otsuji and her campaign car in Umeda. July 2007

Otsuji did not stand for re-election in April 2007. Her first term in the Osaka Assembly expired on 29 April 2007, but she had officially been on the candidate list of the Democratic Party of Japan for the proportional representation constituency of the House of Councillors of the National Diet in July 2007 to be the nation's first-ever openly gay lawmaker.[1]

In the election, she got 38,230 votes but far short of securing the House's seat,[2] so there has been no openly gay elected official in Japan since her retirement from the Osaka Assembly.


  1. First gay candidate runs in Japan. CNN Turner Broadcasting System (20 June 2007). Retrieved on 2007-07-19.
  2. Japanese gay woman loses bid for parliament seat. Reuters (29 July 2007). Retrieved on 2007-08-01.

External links

es:Kanako Otsuji ja:尾辻かな子 zh:尾辻加奈子