Kansai Rainbow Parade 2007
Diverse crowd champions Kansai Rainbow Parade 2007
By Justin Ellis
It is no longer possible to pretend that Japan's only rainbow people are in the nation's capital. The 2nd annual Kansai Rainbow Parade in Osaka on Sunday, October 28th, confirmed that, indeed, sexual minorities are as much a reality of Kansai as they are of Tokyo.
A one-and-a-half hour delay due to city government rescheduling didn't deter the 1,300-strong crowd, out in the sunshine of a cloudless autumn afternoon.
Osaka Prefectural Governor Fusae Ota gave her support to the LGBT community in a speech read on her behalf at the opening ceremony in Naka-no-shima Park. Osaka mayor Junichi Seki declared Osaka the human rights capital of Japan in a speech read for him by transgender organising committee member, Mie. School children and members of the public were encouraged to take Kansai Rainbow Parade 2007 balloons that furthered exposure of the event throughout the city.
Organizing committee member, Asami Oka, noted that while onlookers generally seemed bemused by the spectacle of the parade going down Midosuji-dori to announcements of "we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, straight; we are ourselves," rousing the Brass Mix Band, playing both Western classics and J-pop, kept heads nodding and spirits high.
The most pertinent piece they played was SMAP's Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana (You are the Only Flower in the World) the super group's anthem to individuality.
Kanako Otsuji, an out former member of the Osaka city council, said that seeing the LGBT community on the streets of Osaka was a defining moment in the quest for visibility of sexual minorities. The section of the parade where people did not want to be photographed has diminished since the inaugural 2006 march, underscoring the growing confidence of the participants, she added. Numbers increased by almost half, from 900 in 2006, to 1,300 in 2007.
Over 100 volunteers guided the two-hour parade smoothly along its course through the crammed streets of Shinsaibashi, Osaka's densest shopping district. Yoshihiko Nagai, parade operations manager said the police had been particularly kind and helpful. Thanks to the peacefulness of the parade last year, the police were more relaxed this year, he said in the closing speeches in Motomachi-naka Park.
Nevertheless, it must be said that the police did dissuade organizing committee member Oka from standing on top of a float to mimic performers in the Disneyland Electric Light Parade, one very familiar to most Japanese.
The last of the parade entered Motomachi-naka Park at sunset where Nakata Takashi from Tokyo Pride Parade, Yosuke Sato from Rainbow March Sapporo, Tatsuo Fujiura from Angel Life Nagoya and Kenzo Masuda from Kobe LGBTIQ Pride March voiced their support for Japan's growing LGBT network.
Ota said the Kansai Rainbow Parade organizing committee had expanded in 2007, and that this was the first year an after-party had been held. The party, at Explosion nightclub in Doyama, featured local and international DJs, and drag queens from the parade.