25-year-old politician draws on his own experiences of isolation during campaign.
On March 12, voters in the city of Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, went to the polls to elect the members of their city council. Among their options for representation was Tomoya Hosoda, a young politician who was campaigning openly as a transgender man.
The votes have now been tallied, and Hosoda was able to secure 1,134 votes, placing him 21st out of all candidates and earning him a seat on the 22-member council that governs the affairs of the roughly 148,000-resident Iruma.
▼ Hosoda, one day before the election
Hosoda didn’t run as an independent, nor was he the figurehead of an LGBTQ special interest group. He was an officially endorsed candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party, one of Japan’s largest political organizations.
In speaking about the impetus for his candidacy, Hosoda said that he was motivated by a desire to provide a support system for Iruma residents facing issues related to their sexual orientation and gender identity, something that he wishes he had been available when he himself was dealing with such things. However, Hosoda didn’t limit his campaign to courting the LGBTQ vote, as he also stressed the need for better care for elderly and disabled people in the community.
His victory at the polls makes Hosoda Japan’s first openly transgender man to hold public office in the country. Japan elected its first openly transgender woman representative in 2003, when Aya Kamikawa was chosen to become a member of Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward Council, where she is currently serving in her fourth term.