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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 Edit
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 June 2006, Otsuji visited the United States on a trip sponsored by the International Visitor Leadership Program  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 , the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Freedom to Marry and the Stonewall Democrats.
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.
- ↑ First gay candidate runs in Japan. CNN Turner Broadcasting System (20 June 2007). Retrieved on 2007-07-19.
- ↑ Japanese gay woman loses bid for parliament seat. Reuters (29 July 2007). Retrieved on 2007-08-01.
- Kanako Otsuji's official site — The Lesbian Politician
- Kanako Otsuji's election campaign site for National Diet Template:Ja icon
- Japan Times — Lesbian politician Kanako Otsuji talks about gender issues in Japan
- Japan Media Review — Osaka Legislator 'Comes Out' in Autobiography
- TransNews Annex — Japan's first openly gay politician speaks up for nation's silent minorities — IHT/Asahi
- Rainbow Network — Heroes and Villains: Kanako Otsuji
- GayRussia — Japanese LGBT activists stand up for Human Rights of Russian LGBT
- Bay Area Reporter — Japanese politician opens closet doors
- Out of the closet: Japan's transsexuals gain freedoms, but still face barriers
- Global Greens — Japan : What is the Rainbow and Greens?
- — Article on Otsuji's wedding in Pink News
- - New Beginnings for Gay Movement: Kanako Otsuji at Fridae.com (Empowering Gay Asia)
- — Japanzine - The Lesbian Politicianes:Kanako Otsuji