Japan: First Lady makes surprise appearance at Tokyo Pride parade

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Japan’s First Lady took part in Tokyo’s pride parade on Sunday, voicing her support for LGBT people.

Akie Abe, wife of the country’s conservative Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, appeared atop a float in the ‘Rainbow Pride’ parade, which more than 3000 people marched in.

According to AFP, the First Lady later wrote on her Facebook page: “I want to help build a society where anyone can conduct happy, enriched lives without facing discrimination.

“I had the pleasure of spending fun time filled with smiles. Thank you.”

She added that she has been invested in the issue since joining a commission set up by UNAIDS and the Lancet medical journal last year.

Her husband did not join her at the event, and instead spent the day visiting victims of the 2011 tsunami.

She is jokingly referred to as the ‘domestic opposition party’ in the country, due to her outspoken views, which often conflict with her husband’s policies.

Japan does not allow same-sex marriage, defining marriage as “based only on the mutual consent of both sexes”, and a recent poll found there is still a majority opposed to the issue.

It also does not have national anti-discrimination laws, though some cities have adopted them regionally.