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The Evolution of LGBTQ+ Rights in Japan: A Conversation With GS Advocates

2021-04-20

In the wake of a court ruling backing same-sex marriages in Japan, Goldman Sachs’ Hiroki Inaba, Masakazu Yanagisawa and Akoko Koda discuss the evolution of gay rights in Japan and companies’ efforts to create more inclusive environments.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is exchanges of Goldman Sachs will be as developments curly, shaping markets industries in the global economy, I'm Jake, seaward global, had of course, communications at the firm and for today episode I'm delighted to welcome colleagues from our Tokyo office, we're going to have a different kind of podcast when we talk about the significance of a recent court ruling that back to same sex marriages in Japan and the broader evolution of algae BT, Q plus rights in Japan and across all of Asia, that I'm joined by three of my colleagues from the Tokyo office, my guess are herodian about whose VP in the legal department and head of the Tokyo L Gb teach you plus. Network, also by Massa Masa Yana Asawa, who is the head of prime services at the firm in Japan and also Kosovo of the firms. A pack, Asia, Pacific, algebra teach you plus council, and
only last but not least, a keyhole coda, who has been an active ally of the algae boutique, you plus community, in Tokyo in Asia, and also runs its young, which is a jar in many people's violence and the executive office. For Japan for Gorman she's also co head of the federation there, so Masa and Akiko key go. Thank you we join yesterday and welcomed the problem. Thank you. Thank you for thank you all right, Japan remains really the only g7 country that has not traditionally recognise same sex relationships, but that, maybe changing given last month's court decision, which said that and failure to recognize same sex. Marriage is so. Let's start with What is the legal significance, the practical significance of that ruling? it was a milestone event for Japan in every aspect for be it of course, but for the japanese history as well. It's been, I have to they saw here when it comes
recognising that relationship symbolic, organizing the OECD to community, but with this new quadling, another diet member had started to discuss about this issue which is needed to do about it in Japan, but also on the back of this court decision now the newspaper purse tv shows The media's had started to talk about this issue, which had been taking the japanese community, and I'm very, very hopeful that move the needle Us are listed with you for a moment. Share your personal strength, how you came out and how that's gone at Goldman and elsewhere yeah. I actually came out at my my file, like nearly ten years ago, when I realized that they offer housing benefit. To be legally recognised couples only, and I saw that Billy, oh well below the age of eighty issues. Not commodities talked in Jakarta yet so maybe I should give up. At the same time, I also felt that you hope to benefit is a part of my son.
And I shouldn't that should give out. I'm working, Oddly enough at the bank, and probably in all, I should get equal benefit. I came out today job at the time and asked that we need to change. The policy quite likely that we had good industry Colleagues, including Goldman Sachs briskly, get us some guidance, what they have done in the past in this space in Japan, and we implement the policy at the farm as well. So that was a great experience for me. I learn a lot from the process, but because I actually spent five years in the UK when I was in twenty and and London had changed a lot over that five five years time. I was quite hopeful. Japan could a change as well, and since I came out in twenty twelve many things had changed in Japan to and dismay The court decision is just one of them. Well,
it is probably the one most significant cultural changes in my dont life. In the United States as well, and if you think back to just ten twenty Let's go gay. You join the firm longtime alone, two thousand to only came out and fifteen, what prompted you to make that decision and do it at that point in time I started my career in ninety nineties started doing japanese back there. No other at work in Japan. There was actually no. One at work in Japan as far as I knew and if you the tv you, Sir Gatekeeper Larry, the screen and on the occasion you saw them their subject of belief a joke, so so prejudice was everywhere. Boss, at work as where's the in society so coming our work, your men, carry a suicide kidding, carry about then it's not sure I was in the crowd
I joined war mind to send it to about I have no intention to change it and to come out a walk. So then, what changed me? I think Goldman pushed my bags, Burma in Japan, started promoting s ability to pressing Brujon at work intensively. In two thousand and nine, but I was still skeptical at first thought. This will end soon. Did it became more and more active year by year and two thousand and fifteen? When I came out there was a farmer, saw the warrant urine event, mentoring, energy being used to that. I wanted to participate, but he was forgot without coming out You can imagine how difficult it will be to be a mentor for chew there. While you are hiding that you're gay person, so I decided to come out to participate
also, my manager about then pushed my back as well be inspired by the farms initiatives. She such an ally, I remember she often talked about what she discovered while she attended also, the event for him and I do like you know that a gay person, although in a crowded, was being beside him and listening to she, the story, Sir another lesson that I came out so the japanese society started to change just before I came out in May Shibuya shit, which is one of the cities in Turkey. I actually live next to Shibuya Sheba past the ordinance recognizing same sex partners. I have heard the wave of the change is just started to arrive in Japan and I wanted to participate in the way all the other reason the reason. Pushed me to come out
I'd so mass back to you, you mentioned you lived in London Travel extensively to about how the landscape for Lgbtq plus community has involved in Japan over the years, and how does it compare with some of the other countries? You've worked in and traveled in yeah. I think change is significant. Just Gimme the number around two thousand and ten, the price policy in Togo only had coupled thousand buddies spent, I remember that in twenty twelve, when they participate for the first time, the G S was the one a few companies will actually had a company fragment Bobo everywhere and it with the company teachers, I've actually met article corridor at the Palais de them. When I actually met for the first time he was actually street in Shibuya and we talked about how to Japan can actually change and how the corporate can drive. Change as well since then it's just so it's amazing. I have to say
used to be the LGBT was not the common in about. We need to explain what the else stands for, but now the people their stand there and the people's talking about the challenges the community faces. I think what quite interesting is that over the last few years, obviously, the legalizing mileage has been the group of phenomena. The global phenomena studying from Europe to the? U S, and now the Taiwan and the other arab countries or allegiance have been promoting this equality, and that is absolutely powerful for One change as well. I'm sure that we talked about the business case for this data, but this global change have been pushing the global Japanese. Corporations like on the independent Panasonic, and this has been the great powerful voice within happening community. This is a time for us to change, name
So the debate over same sex marriages was in full swing as far back in the US and Europe in the ninety nine, as Massa mentioned, and it's really They come to the forefront in Asia in recent years as you've all described Akiko. How do you think corporate Japan's attitude towards diversity? Inclusion are changing so when we discuss diversity and inclusion in Japan. The first thing, people think of, is gender issues, so just taking a step back. Japan legalised equal employment law for men and women in nineteen eighty five. So this was the dawn of the gender issue to be brought to the front and over the, last thirty plus years, inclusion of women has become a much more major topic in the workplace and society. We we've also seen that with Prime Minister Shinzo obey our former Prime Minister introducing woman on makes into the Japan's economic policies in two thousand thirteen. On the other hand, when you look at Elsie BT, two plus issues this is
Ve been more discuss publicly in the corporate place over the past ten years as Hiroki. A lot of LGBT plus issues were more things you saw on tv, not something you saw in the workplace. So it's interesting thing, as Masa has said, that, with the time evolving, we are seeing much stride and I think that we are making much progress. I think, similar to gender issues. The real inclusion is going to take much more time, but I think the acknowledgement and awareness phase has really come forward, as Hiroki had mentioned. Tokyo and other local municipals are starting to acknowledge Samtec partnerships, and we are also starting to see some japanese corporates, including equal benefits for employees in same sex relationships as well. It's really listing, because if you ask somebody in the younger generation, they will say that they know of Nell Jpg, two plus friend, which is very different from the older generation who might
Beware of any and not really aware of some of the issues in the algae beating you plus community a recent survey by dense, which is one of our largest advertising. Companies in Japan has shown that nearly eighty percent of people aged between twenty and fifty nine approve of same sex, marriage, so it shows that there is a shift in sentiment to really allow people to be more open to come out and to be their true self. All right, so masa and a rocky both played leadership roles in campaigning for Elsie you plus rights and marriage equality, both inside and outside the firm described a little bit personal motivations, for getting involved what you ve been able to achieve a rogue yes right with you, my such men. Do I was to Goldman as DVD to communities biggest achieve method. You have Massa with us Boardman now. Mesa is one of the most famous and respected out, and open business leaders in Japan, it is great to see that Burma attracted to censure,
outstanding leader in the community a good man. I organize NPR of business lawyers. Supporting energy beekeepers community in Japan No, it's my former manager there four major business flow farms in Japan and all of them joined this NPO. I'm proud that only human rights lawyers, but also Most of the business lawyers in Japan Support Marriage Equality ACT activity of this. The up. I the sheep, to southern seventeen outstanding there are national corporate council outward American by association. For my work organizing this and be all to my personal motivation is fascinating to be however, the changes of its society Fischer when you were you fear you are contributing something to the change. I think this is my imagination, so
for me the motivation is actually about myself to start with. I just wanted to be myself at work and it was a difficult so when I So what would be the best way to learn about the experience of the other funds there? create and your and ass about the workplace issue. That's how I started the forum called work with pride with a few friends. We, basically introduce the work best forum to discuss this agenda, but also in twenty thousand and introduce equality index, which is the best. Recognising the corporations and fought for this. I would you be the equality when we started in two thousand and seventeen only eighty seven japanese companies has like organised at the best place to work the good woman one of them and had been the one with them since the launch in thousand and twenty last year the number was one hundred and eighty three and that number
includes a traditional, japanese corporate like planets Megan Sunny I'm just The golden sacks and actually showed a significant change we made in the past few years and with this All I have been getting getting amazing opportunity to discuss about this issue with the corporate executives, as well as the in other political community leaders as well. I think the work had been quite interest to me is that this community work has a great feedback into my work as well. They often give me the perspective about how we should think about the community they often give me the ideas on how Japan actually change in the overall context. Not just on the eligibility issues and that had been greatly? you get it to my work to think about how we should be strategic about the business in
So maybe you wrote a bed for negate Asia about the need for Japan to recognise the constitutionality of same sex marriage and you talked about the freedom Marriage. Not only is the human rights issue, but is a positive driver for business. Cried how legalizing same sex marriage in Japan would be good for business summit. We were I'm familiar with those arguments here in the US, but explain how work in the japanese context. Yeah absolutely. I think the probably most important thing is that the people expected to maximize their ability at work without hiding the sexual orientation or agenda. I did the it's very hard, to do that. So I guess suggested it bit my point is to be myself at the work in all this. Be quality is the one of the most important agenda to make it happen and marriage equality could be a driver
For that, I think it only in cases that going to jump unease correlations. We talked about your personal lives. We talked about the weekend activities and people often assume that you have why other than husband. If we are men and they actually take it granted for the everyday conversation, so they having the concept of the manage quality in place, this obviously changed the whole dynamics of the conversation and change. Atmosphere into the more inclusive way, and that will be a positive impact on the creative it. And innovation at work. Also I would say that at this stage the GS offers equal benefits to the employees, and they often we actually need to create a unique system, even though, There is no national coverage for some of the benefits like insurance as well as like animals, and if the company wants to
Introduce the unique system is that cost. We strongly want to urge the government have the national system that would make much more easier for the japanese cobbler to adapt the equal pussies. So our much better men and c o my blank find was the first fortune five hundred leader to publicly sport because of marriage, equality in the United States back in two thousand and twelve, the key go. How do you think the financial services industry, which is fairly conservative everywhere, but especially in Asia, has changed and water companies doing to cry a more inclusive environment, for the reasons must have described. Recently, the american chambers of Commerce in Japan published statement made endorsed by sixty one organizations here, including ourselves, citing that
disparity and legal rights, makes your panel less attractive option for LGBT two plus couples compared to many other companies, and I think the business case for us and for a lot of the companies is really the war for talent. We want to retain and attract the best talent. And as you have more people who are comfortable to be themselves, there is engage of performance and being out, and so we want to make sure that we are a magnet to attract the best talent, recognising the equality that we have. I think also for the broader industry. We have algae BT finance, its established amongst the global investment banks and accounting firms. We continue to work together to share best practice is also we march in the Rainbow pride parades together. In Japan to really raise awareness of LGBT plus issues and really
across industry really want to increase more inclusive in the society overall and we're quite quite happy with achievements we've made over made over the past years Stingley amongst the japanese Nestle service companies. The insurance companies saw the business case in diversity and in Lgbtq plus inclusion very early on as they learned and saw how the? U dot s. Insurance companies were treating same sex couples in insurance policies and benefits, and so I They were the most advanced in recognising from a business case, which I think has been a major step forward, and hopefully will could We need to see more japanese companies taking the same step as Issue and awareness continues to be much more acknowledged,
had so interesting. You say that you are you don't think of financial services and insurance industries is being pioneers in the space, but it it's amazing. The role they played a key go talk a little bit about how GS, Tokyo, the office there. What we ve done to attract and retain algae, be teach you plus professionals in the war for town sound, in terms of our employees benefits Goldman Sachs. Togo has all benefit available equally to same and opposite sex marriages such as insurance coverage, marriage leave, adoption leave jelly treatments which is not entirely common in Japan, yet we also have employee resource groups. So we have our Bt Lgbtq plus Network, led by Troke in Japan, and also for Asia, Pacific for as the the network itself is very active. Visible and we also have allies. Ass. The entire firm I have a huge flag LGBT ally in my office also
A lot of our employees have stickers and tense on their death to show their support. We also have managing directors serving as all as it should be easy BT, two plus community and bay in each of their divisions, we need to increase awareness and promotes a movie trainings and activities that we host internally, the ability of support is really important to, braced inclusiveness and to really cultivate that environment. Sew in pride month which we celebrate in November. We have a pink Friday, we're globally, but also in Japan. All of our employees come either in the Pink t, shirt that the firm has or in their favorite outfit. Pink? You really celebrate pride. We also in Tokyo hold a career forum specifically for LGBT plus students discussing our firm culture, benefits,
and also answer any questions they may have, as they start their job search some. The question start really, as should I be out Should I stay quiet, how I asked the benefits of what companies have when I'm looking for a job search for Trans, gender, it's even more challenging because we ve had questions. Should I come as a mail. Should I come as a female. Should I go with my birth? gender, or, should I go with I self identify? Is it's very challenging as a student and truly understand what is accepted in the car, right. So we also have conducted a number of firm sponsored volunteer activities to really help to college also do prep questioning that we train. We give them mock interviews in advance to help them get prepared. For interviews into the workplace, origin
So, finally, in this a question for all of you, what are your outlooks for? The prospects of Japan actually legalizing same sex marriages? There's the first step, obviously with the court ruling, but are you hopeful that will make more progress I'll start with Heroku? I think nor are the same sex marriage. Symbol of discrimination and the prejudice against Lgbtq Press community. And same sex. Samesex made stop all the discrimination in Japan, but this would be a great step to right. Massa. Haven't you after the court decision, I got so many emails and phone calls from my colleagues my clients, the partners in the farm just amazing, and that includes some of the people who look be consolidated interesting in this type of the topic never talked about this in the workplace, but they say
I am really happy with a decision under the very keen to be involved in it Just so amazing- and I am so grateful- was that I was just convinced that we just moved forward here- and I am very hopeful for that throughout europe- right and Akiko. How about you I'm hopeful as well. I think the time is ripe. And has been an active proponent talking about the United Nations, sustainable development goals and as corporate Japan continues to really push for the Sdgs. Really, I think that we are moving forward. Or to becoming a much more inclusive society, not only for gender issues, but also for eligibility to plus and much more broadly. I'm very, and I do hope that we make a major strike forward.
Right, why surely hope you all right- and thank you all for joining us today and for speaking so personally and bought, lay about your hopes and fears and for all the work you ve done it and thank you again for doing an English. Had we not a Japanese, I think my questions would have been pretty elementary, so eggs for joining us today, Rocky Martha and a kick up again Thank you very much. That was terrific. That concludes this episode of exchanges. Goldman Sachs. Thank you very much for listening and if you enjoyed the show, we hope you subscribe and Apple podcast and leave a rating or a comment and please tune in later in the week for our markets update where leaders around the firm provide a quick take on the latest in markets. This podcast was recorded on Thursday April eight. Two thousand twenty one and technically unable nights. Two thousand twenty one in Japan. So thanks for listening
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Transcript generated on 2021-05-26.