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04 May 2020

Introducing Japan's gayest TV drama "Ossan's Love" aired on mainstream TV channel

While I locked down myself to prevent novel corona virus spread at home. I just happened to rent DVD drama programs "Ossan's Love" which was aired in 2018 on one of Japan's mainstream TV network channels, TV Asahi. The drama consists of 7 episodes. Each episode was about 40 minutes long.

lgbt, gay, homosexuality

What was shocking to me is the comedy drama featured male gay love affairs all the way although it was aired on the mainstream channel and then it became so popular that subsequent film version was released in nationwide theatres and another version of the TV drama was aired on the same time frame next year.

The story took place in a real estate agency in Tokyo. The protagonist is 33 year-old male worker named Haruta (Middle in the picture.) Although the story evolved around him, the most important character was his supervisor Kurosawa (right edge in the photo), 55 year-old man, which in Japan commonly referred to as “Ossan” meaning “Old guy” usually middle aged.

Kurosawa was head of sales department of the real estate agency, equivalent to vice president of the company and a rich man. One day Kurosawa told Haruta that he loved him and would divorce his wife (Second from right) to be with him. Haruta was shocked to know that because he did not share love romance with his supervisor although he respected and liked him as a good business man.

Kurosawa then asked his wife for a divorce and then Haruta got involved in Kurosawas divorce quarrel. But Haruta also got in love affair with another man, Maki (left edge in the photo) in the office. But Maki had another love affair with another male worker. Two gay love triangles crossed over in the drama. Finally Kurosawa proposed marriage to Haruta.

The drama was all about gay love and love romance between man and woman was sidelined in the story. The gay male characters were portrayed as normal and decent person, not like psychopath or deviant ones. This is the big difference from the past. Gay characters were very normal and positive in the mainstream TV drama. Gay love romance was treated just as equivalent to straight people’s love.

Not just broadcast nationally on mainstream media but the show became so popular that film version and another version in which similar gay love story took place in an airline company using the same main casts next year. In 2019 version Kurosawa was a captain pilot of the airplane and Haruta was a flight attendant. Airline company is really existing company meaning commercial airline company sponsored the program. 

Recently in Japan, more people have positive views on gay relationship and more people have become supportive of gay marriage. In national assembly there are two openly gay members, who call for legalization of the same sex marriage. Some municipal governments approved of the same sex partnership and provide certificates for the residents.

This show reflects this social change.

If you are interested, you can watch the English version of the show on Netflix.

22 April 2015

Dear Fellow Americans, JFK Exhibit is held in Tokyo

I went to the exhibition of John Fitzgerald Kennedy at National Archives of Japan located near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

 

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I went there with one old American couple whose young days were when JFK were alive as US President. They told me that the assassination was shocking to them because he was very popular at that time.

 

The admission was free. It has been held since early March and is scheduled to end May 10, 2015. The description of exhibits are mostly Japanese. So I explained to them what each one of exhibits was about. Actually they knew what they were because those things were very familiar with them already.

 

I focused on one corner. The exhibits that relate to his relationship with Japan before he became a politician.

 

history, JFK, war, homosexuality, gay, lesbian,

 

 

A cononut paperweight and a letter to former enemy.

These things come from his war-time experience in Solomon islands, Southern Pacific 1943. JFK was on torpedo patrol boat with his crews at night. The boat was hit by Japanese naval destroyer, Amagiri and sunk. JFK and his men were all thrown out to the sea but they swam to one island. There they met locals. JFK asked them to deliver a coconut which the message of calling for help was written on to the US military corp. Then he and his men were all saved. By that incident JFK was awarded medals.

After the war, JFK made the coconut into paperweight as a memorial. JFK wrote the letter to former captain of the destroyer, Hanami telling him that he wanted to meet the captain because yesterday’s enemy turned today’s friend. Later JFK invited him to his presidential election campaign. The captain could not go to the US but his best friend, Onozaki, who was also a crew of the destroyer went. The photo that Onozaki and JFK together were printed out in newspapers in US that might help JFK win the election.

 

He might have felt saved by the Japanese military. I speculate that the enemy did not shoot at them though they found them in the sea or even gave them a rescue boat or some way to save their lives?

 

JFK to me has weird relation. When I was in US two decades ago as a college student, some of my classmates said to me that I look like JFK. I was glad to hear that.

 

I remember when I went to Arlington cemetery in Washington, I could come to his grave without knowing the route, seemed like he invited me.

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 He and I have things in common. I am Catholic and have back pain problem from young days still struggling with it some time. He and I are very much interested in civil rights advocacy.

 

 The memorable thing I saw in the exhibit was his speech film on Civil Right Act in relation to Alabama state’s defiance to Federal court order to admit Afro-American students to its state university.

 

He said,

 

“We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is the land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to Negroes?

Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.

The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.

We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives.”

 

That speech sounds like current President Mr. Obama’s endorsement on gay marriage.

 

After a half century, a new type of civil rights movement seems to be on. The same rhetoric are used for both pros and cons. Majorities vs. Minorities. Conservatives vs. Liberals.

 

Federal protection law to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been on debate.

 

Just like that State of Alabama rejected court order to provide marriage licenses to gay couples.

 

That is why Obama is called, Black Kennedy. He succeeded JFK’s will to protect civil rights.

 

Interestingly enough, unlike race matter, sexual orientation matter is common worldwide. So America can be a good role model for this issue.

 

In relation to it, this coming weekend April 25 & 26, 2015, Tokyo celebrates gay pride event in Yoyogi Park that includes street parade. I will actually join it. Last March one ward of Tokyo, Shibuya passed an ordinance that provides partnership certificate to gay couples. The first political accomplishment in Japan’s gay movement.

Japan’s public opinion regarding gay issue has recently changed.

According to the recent poll conducted by Mainichi Newspaper, majority of Japanese support gay rights, especially among younger generation. More people approve of gay marriage than those who oppose it.

 

Is it due to what has happened recently in the U.S. ?

Good role model. Hope US keep being good role model for us.

 

Since I think of JFK, there are 3 songs that come up with. The songs released in the year he was assassinated. Did he hear the songs and enjoy them?

 

One is related to civil rights movement, "Blowing in the wind", one implies coming of Vietnam war, "Green Green." The other implies the oppression I am facing with many other people regarding US policy which current US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy (JFK’s daughter) has to deal with.

 

20 June 2013

Attended the Speech meeting of Japan's first openly gay parliament member

Her name is Kanako Otsuji. She is now 38 years old. Last month she obtained the seat for Japan's upper house parliament.

On 18 of June, she made a speech in the meeting titled "Sexuality and Politics" held by Rainbow Action group, at Nakano Zero Hall in Tokyo. Around 60 people including me attended the meeting.

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She was a candidate for that position in the election held 5 years and 10 months ago. She was listed in candidate list of nation-wide proportional representation constituency for one of Japan's major political party, Democratic Party of Japan. That was very first time in Japan's history that a major party nominates openly gay person as its candidate. She gathered some votes but could not reach passing border line. However, after more than 5 years, only 2 months left until the end of the term, she got to the position because several members died or resigned from the parliament. Kind of strange incident.

In the speech she talked about profile and how she is doing now. She used to be a member of prefecture congress in Osaka. She came out during that time. She is now actively working as a national parliament member and got involved in many law-making tasks. She recently was invited to and then attended a sexual minority's meeting held in US embassy in Tokyo.

I asked her how Japan can be changed in terms of this issue since Japan is different from western nations in the sense that Japan is not advanced in minority rights issues.

Her reply was, those nations and Japan have things in common that are practicing democracy. Democracy does not necessarily mean majority of people make the rule. Everyone has decision making right. We can make changes by making laws. Japan can change drastically when the time comes. Japan is not very religious like western nations. We are rather concerned about peer pressure matters.

That may be right, I think. According to the Reuter news report, the world-wide survey on ordinary citizens opinion about gay issue revealed Japan is as open-minded as western nations. Especially, younger generations' supporting rate for gays was higher than that of US.

Is it due to the recent gay liberation movement? That may not be a major cause. As she described Japan's morale standard is based on peer pressure. Homosexuality has been considered abnormal in this society but never been considered sin like Christian societies in the West. In fact histricaly Japanese society tolerated gay relationship until premodern time ended. Details in this post.

Furthermore, when we acquire new things, we can change very rapidly like late 19th century's industrialization or reconstrution after the second world war.

Ms. Otsuji said even after entry of parliament, she never experienced any harrassment by other people in the house. People are friendly and trusting her very well.

Thanks to her, her outing of what she is helps our nation progress further, to more democratic and civilized. She is the proof of our democracy, freedom and flexible culture. I am proud of her. We all should be proud of her.

26 November 2012

Film"Midnight Cowboy" Hard place for gays

1969 film that a young Texan boy travelled to New York hoping that he would make a fortune but just got troubles ending up being a male whore in cowboy outfit selling sex to men on 42nd street.

I learnt about this film by reading a magazine article published in the same year. That was Japanese magazine. It says "The film is about gay issue in America. That describes how hard for gays living in America. In Japan gays are considered abnormal but not outlawed and in showbiz industry gays can take advantage of what they are. In most states of America gay sex is outlawed. For politicians exposing himself as being gay means end of his political career." (November 18, 1969, PREIBOUI (Playboy) published by Shueisha) That was Japanese perspective of the film at that time.

Sounds odd. Now as we see, America is much more open society to gays than Japan. There are openly gay congressmen and a senator. In some states gay marriage is legalized. But just a generation plus ten years ago, America was a hell for gays. The film clearly described how homophobiac American society had been.

Maybe such oppression turned driving force for liberation along with other civil rights movement like Blacks and women.

The story of the film was very boring to me but I understand significance of the message delivered in the film. Surprisingly the film was released as X-rated at that time. It can never be classified as X-rated by today's standard. Maybe because it was a time even a Color TV with remote was considered most sophisticated product as depicted in the film.

Things have changed drastically over the decades.

22:43 Posted in Film, Society | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: gay, homosexuality, cowboy

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