24 Aug 2018

Japanese Lit Scholar Comes Out, Criticises Anti-LGBT Lawmakers

Robert Campbell felt the need to speak out after two parliamentarians’ homophobic comments became public.

Motivated by recent derogatory comments by members of Japan’s ruling party, a well-known American scholar of Japanese literature in Tokyo publicly came out on August 14, the Japan Times reported.

Robert Campbell, the director of the National Institute of Japanese Literature, often appears on talk shows in Japan. According to the Japan Times, he told Kyodo News that he felt “disillusioned and alarmed” by a recent description of LGBT people as “unproductive members of society” by lawmaker Mio Sugita. Another Lower House parliamentarian equated being gay to a “hobby.”

Campbell said that he has known he was gay since his early adolescence and recently married his long-term Japanese partner in the U.S.—his family and friends knew of his sexual orientation, but he felt the need to speak out publicly after the lawmakers’ comments.

“I hope, along with my own words, they will lead us to think about the issue together,” he is quoted as saying.