Robert Campbell is a scholar of Japanese literature and a TV personality in Japan. He’s currently based in Tokyo as the director general of the National Institute of Japanese Literature. He also came out as gay on Tuesday. Although he’s been out to friends and family for a long time, and was recently married to his Japanese partner of 20 years, he felt the need to come out and criticize some of the anti-LGBT comments made by Japanese lawmakers.
According to, Campbell was specifically reacting to Tom Tanigawa, a lawmaker belonging to the Liberal Democratic Party (the current ruling party in Japan) who compared same-sex relationships to “something like a hobby,” and , who called same-sex relationships “unproductive.”
In an interview with Kyodo News, Campbell said he felt alarmed by those comments and wanted to come out publicly to make sure the general public didn’t believe these misconceptions about LGBT people.
“I thought, if it’s not a preference for me, then what is it? After some reflection, I came to the conclusion that it’s a fundamental part of my core being,” Campbell said, responding to Tanigawa’s and Sugita’s implication that sexual identity is a preference.
It does seem like attitudes in Japan, both cultural and governmental,.
In terms of LGBT rights and legislation, certain districts and cities recognize same-sex partnerships, but this is usually limited in terms of legal benefits. Anti-discrimination laws for services, housing and employment exist in Tokyo, but not anywhere else in Japan.
Japanese citizens have the right to change their legal gender, but only if they are single, diagnosed with gender dysphoria, undergo surgery and sterilization and have no children under 20. These specific laws are currentlyin Japan.