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Tokyo Gay Pride

Japan flag. Tokyo Gay Lesbian Pride Parade

Tokyo Pride Festival, 2009.Tokyo Gay Lesbian Pride Parade

Rainbow Parade Sapporo | Tokyo Rainbow Festival | Tokyo Pride


STOP PRESS: Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade 2014 happening Sunday April 27, 2014. See What's On in Gay/Lesbian Tokyo for details.


Tokyo's first organized, public celebration of being gay was in 1994 with the Tokyo Lesbian & Gay Parade (TL&GP), organized by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Japan.

The first three parades increased in number each year, however internal discord on the occasion of the third parade, in 1996, meant that subsequent parades went virtually unpromoted, and attendance at the next three parades dwindled.

Then, as now, gay parades were classified by the police as "demonstrations," specifically a "sexual minorities' demonstration march," making them closer in to a typical laborers' demonstration than a celebration of sexuality.

On this basis, proposals to revive the fortunes of the Parade included seeking the cooperation of trade unions, but the TL&GP folded with the final one in 1999.



Rainbow Parade, Sapporo

However, some of those who had participated in the 1994 and 1995 Tokyo Lesbian & Gay Parade were inspired to launch a similar event in Sapporo, the largest city on the northern island of Hokkaido, with a population close to 2 million. Beginning in 1996 as the First Les-Bi-Gay Pride March Sapporo, for the next two years it was the Sexual Minority Pride March, and from 1999 became the Rainbow March that has become an annual public event of Sapporo and the longest, continuously run LGBT parade in Japan. The Rainbow Parade was also the first pride parade in Japan to feature floats, in 1999.

That 1999 Rainbow Parade was the venue at which Hideki Sunagawa, a post-doctoral HIV activist-researcher based in Tokyo, announced the resumption of a gay pride march in Tokyo the next year. Called the Tokyo Lesbian & Gay Parade (TLGP), it took place in 2000 in the form of a march around the Shibuya district. The Parade went on, taking place in late summer of the two subsequent years, 2001 and 2002, now attracting crowds of over 3,000.

Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade, 2006. Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade, 2006.

Tokyo Rainbow Festival

The Tokyo Rainbow Matsuri (or "Festival"), organized by the Shinjuku Ni-Chome Promotional Committee, was also held on the same day as the TLGP as a gay village celebration complementing the Parade and keeping the party going into the small hours.

In 2003 and 2004, the Tokyo Rainbow Matsuri was Tokyo's only public gay celebration.

The TLGP was held again in August 2005 - again, attracting well over 3,000, according to the organizers, and even more in 2006.

Tokyo Pride Parade

By 2006 opinion had divided within the TLGP over the degree of politicization that was appropriate for it, some of the chants and placards of the recent parades having had politically inspired messages woven into them. Those for a political stance argued that, Tokyo being the seat of government, a political color was warranted, whereas those against countered that, unlike the Osaka and Sapporo events, very few public figures indeed were involved, thus allowing any political message very little clout.

However, the most effective criticism was that leveled at the "Lesbian & Gay" part of the parade's title, in that it ignored the needs of other sexual minorities. From 2007, therefore, it became the "Tokyo Pride Parade."

The first Tokyo Pride Parade took place on August 11, 2007; yet having been the sixth such parade since 2000, it is for practical purposes regarded as the sixth parade.

Politicization Debate

The 6th Parade was said by the organizers to have been the best attended in the history of the parades; however, being in the thousands, it still paled in comparison to gay parades overseas that drew hundreds of thousands, even millions. Furthermore, as in previous years, it was almost completely ignored by the media. Also, while three members of the National Diet who took part, Nobuto Hosoka, Mizuho Fukushima, Ryuhei Kawada, this remained unchanged from 2006. Furthermore, MPs of the major parties were absent.

The Diet members, few though they were, played a very active role in the parade, leading it with banners, and were given the opportunity to address the crowd at the end of the parade. The anti-political voices amongst the Pride participants considered their case strengthened, pointing to the "favorable treatment" and "special attention" afforded the members of parliament as evidence of the parade's increasing "political bias."

Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade, 2006. Tokyo Pride Festival, 2009.

The 7th parade, scheduled for August 2008, was canceled due to the executive committee's having dissolved that May with several members, led by the chairperson, Takashi Nakata, announcing their withdrawal, and the remaining four also resigning at the end of July. All that was left was a "Re-Formation Investigative Committee," and the future prospects of the parade were left hanging.

A further event, the Tokyo Pride Festival, did place, on May 23 2009 at the Kyogijo event space across from Yoyogi Park. Read more about the Tokyo Pride Festival 2009.

7th Tokyo Pride Parade

The 7th Tokyo Pride Parade, under the leadership of Hideki Sunagawa, happened on August 14 (Saturday), 2010 in Yoyogi and thousands of participants paraded around the streets of Shibuya. See the YouTube video of the Tokyo Pride 2010 below. (And, below it, one of the 2007 Tokyo Pride Parade.)

Tokyo Pride 2010 on YouTube

Tokyo Pride 2007 on YouTube

Disclaimer: This article references the following Japanese Wikipedia articles:


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