LGBT+ Business Climate Score

Out Leadership’s snapshot of the current state of affairs for LGBT+ people, through the lens of international business. The Business Climate Score score is out of ten possible points, and is based on ten independently verifiable indicators of the legal, cultural and business context for LGBT+ people.

6
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  • 10
1.
Are consensual homosexual acts between adults legal?
1
Yes
2.
Are marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples available?
0.5
In some municipalities
3.
Is being LGBT+ punishable by death?
1
No
4.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment prohibited?
0
No
5.
Can transgender people legally change their gender markers?
0.5
Only available to some, with discriminatory requirements
6.
Is sex reassignment surgery at birth for intersex children prohibited?
0
No
7.
Are sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the provision of goods and services prohibited?
0
No
8.
Is there a U.S. State Department warning against travel for LGBT+ individuals?
1
No
9.
Do companies sponsor Pride?
1
Yes
10.
Are there laws prohibiting freedom for assembly or speech for LGBT+ people (i.e. “anti-propoganda laws”, media gags, etc)?
1
No
Talking Points
  • Japan’s refusal to pass laws protecting LGBT+ people and recognizing same-sex marriage makes it difficult for me to consider relocating my talented LGBT+ staff to the country.
  • Passing comprehensive anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT+ people will make Japan a more attractive environment for foreign investment and tourism.
  • LGBT+ consumers are a powerful market worth 6.6 trillion yen ($63 billion) a year, according to one estimate. By failing to protect LGBT+ people and to recognize them as equal under the law, Japan is missing out on a significant market opportunity.
  • Given recent surveys that put Japan’s LGBT population at between 5.2 and 7.6% of the overall population, legalizing gay marriage and outlawing anti-LGBT+ discrimination would allow 6.6 to 9.7 million people to more fully participate in Japan’s social, cultural, political, and economic life.
Talking Points
Impact of LGBT Discrimination on Business and Talent
  • 1
    NO RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
  • 4
    NOTABLE RISK
  • 5
    HIGH RISK
BRAND RISK
  • 1
    No RISK
In terms of supporting LGBT+ rights, there is little brand risk to operating in Japan.
CLIENT RISK
  • 1
    NO RISK
The Japanese government does not actively persecute LGBT+ individuals; accordingly, there is low risk of an international firm losing LGBT+ clients because they do business in Japan.
TALENT RISK
  • 3
    MODERATE RISK
Same-sex spouses aren’t recognized in Japan and therefore cannot easily obtain spousal visas. Although the Ministry of Justice issued an instruction in October 2013 that said non-Japanese who are married to a Japanese national abroad where it was legal to do so and wanted to stay in could apply for a visa for ‘special activity’, this does not confer the same status as a spousal visa. This creates difficulties for companies seeking to relocate employees who are in same-sex marriages and partnerships.
MARKETING RISK
  • 2
    LOW RISK
LGBT+ consumers are estimated to spend 6.6 trillion yen ($63 billion) a year, according to the Tokyo-based consultancy Qocci, and some companies have begun targeting that market. Businesses can engage in marketing friendly to LGBT+ people to tap into this opportunity but may find some challenges in the face of ongoing societal stigmatization.
Socio-cultural Environment of LGBT People:

Status of LGBT+ Organizing and Community

  • — LGBT+ NGOs are free to organize, but there have been some instances of bullying, harassment, and violence.
  • — Gay Pride parades have taken place for more than 20 years in Japan, with the 2014 Tokyo parade featuring an appearance by First Lady Akie Abe riding a float.
  • — The country’s first Pride Index report was launched in fall 2016. The report ranks Japanese companies according to how well they treat their LGBT+ workers. Of the 82 companies that applied to be assessed, 53 earned top status.

Cultural Views of the LGBT+ Community

  • — While consensual homosexual acts between adults are legal in Japan, there is significant societal stigma surrounding LGBT+ people, who face marginalization, discrimination and invisibility. Prejudice prevents many LGBT+ people from being open about their sexual orientation and from reporting discrimination and abuse.
  • — Nonetheless, 41% of Japanese people say gay marriage should be legalized, compared to 37% who disagree, according to a 2015 survey by Asahi Shimbun newspaper. And one survey in 2016 found that a full 90% of Japanese parents would ultimately accept their children who came out as LGBT+.
  • — In November 2015, a Japanese life insurer, Lifenet Insurance Co, announced that it would expand its coverage for same-sex couples; it is believed to be the first such move allowing a policy-holder to designate a same-sex partner as a beneficiary. A few other businesses have begun extending benefits and service to same-sex couples with partnership certificates.
Local Leaders Advocating for LGBT Equality

There are many openly LGBT+ activists and experts in Japan. Out Leadership recommends:

Kazu Terada President
EMA (Equal Marriage Alliance) Japan

Kan Kikumoto
LGBT+ student activist

Fumino Sugiyama
Transgender Activist, Tokyo Rainbow Pride