Japan’s first lesbian drama will soon be on TV, but the series is being accused of being ‘out-of-date’.
Fuji Television announced that the series – Transit Girls – will tell the story of two women, aged 18 and 21, who initially clash when they become stepsisters as their parents marry, but then fall in love.
The characters will be played by Sairi Ito and Yui Sakuma.
Despite being a first for Japan, the eight-part series has been criticised for showing an “out-of-date” image of lesbian couples.
A promo shot for the series shows the two lead characters in bed naked together, looking into each other’s eyes and smiling.
Maki Muraki, the head of Nijiiro Diversity, which campaigns for workplace equality for LGBT people, said the poster is sending the wrong image.
Muraki told The Japan Times
Having two girls lying naked on a white sheet and using words like ‘forbidden’ is a little out of date, I think. The things we do are not about sex. We face a lot of difficulties in our life, for example in the workplace. To be told that the image of us is one of sex doesn’t make me happy.”
Fuji TV describes the show as “a heartwarming straightforward love story, but the main characters are both girls.”
It says it is the nation’s first ever drama dealing with the theme of “girls’ love.”
But Muraki believes Japan still lagged far behind other countries when portraying LGBT issues.
It’s new for Japan, but America has had programs dealing with these issues since around 2006. This isn’t something new. In America they have programs like ‘Modern Family,’ where it’s taken for granted that LGBT people bring up children. Rather than being sexual, it shows LGBT people in their everyday lives and that’s a positive force. If it’s just about sex, I can’t think of that as positive.”
Japan has a rich gay history, but LGBT rights get short shrift in the mainstream media. Japan’s views on homosexuality are a complex one. Despite artistic cultural exports that shows Japan as being a socially progressive society in regards to gender and sexual expression, the country still struggles with broad legislation that would ensure LGBT equality.
Politicians across Japan have made plans to look into LGBT rights in the run up to the Tokyo Olympics.