Global pride, local parades – Tokyo Rainbow Pride and LGBT advocacy in Japan

Dr Shu Min Yuen1

1National University Of Singapore, Singapore

Pride parades, first held in the United States half a century ago, have become a global phenomenon, spreading to many Asian countries in the last two decades. The history of pride parades in Japan dates back to the 1990s, but it is only in the last five years or so that such events exploded in scale, and gained unprecedented attention from the public, media and corporate sponsors. More significantly, pride events are becoming one of the most visible platforms through which LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals and activists in Japan make their voices heard. In this paper, I draw on the case of the Tokyo Rainbow Pride to discuss the significance of such glocal pride events—imported from the West but developed within the specific socio-cultural context of Japan—in LGBT people’s claims to sexual citizenship in a country that continues to limit recognition and inclusion of its sexual minorities.


Shu Min YUEN teaches gender and sexuality at the Department of Japanese Studies, National University of Singapore. Her research interests include transgender studies, Asian queer studies, and contemporary Japanese society. Her monograph on FTM history, media and community in Japan is in progress.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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