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"Rainbow Consumption" and Sexual Minority in Japan

July 26, 2018

Akari Aoki

“About one out of thirteen Japanese is sexual minority.” That fact became clear by a survey of a major advertisement agency Dentsu Inc. In 2015, them in-company unit Dentsu Diversity Lab (DDL) conducted an extensive research in terms of LGBT and other sexual minorities and obtained 69,989 respondents from all over Japan.

Courtesy: M Tänzerin mit Fächer

In Japan, there are a lot of people who do not have enough understandings of sexual minorities and their problem. Therefore, the Japanese people now confront with many troubles concerning diversity in various fields and they need to think about the adaptation of sexual minorities in their society.

What is the sexual minority?

Sexual minorities are “the group whose sexual identity, orientation, and practices differ from the majority of the surrounding society.”

We frequently hear the word LGBT, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual (people who are attracted to both sexes), and transgender (people who live by gender different from the legal or social gender of birth; people who wish to live that way; or people who do not agree with the mind and body of their gender of birth).

These are just some more types of sexual minorities in fact. See the Figure1, let me give you some example, I (inter sex) people who are difficult to distinguish themselves between men and women, A (asexual) people who does not experience sexual attraction, Q (questioning) people who are in the process which gender identify suits them best. In this sense, the expression “LGBT” has a problem that other minorities are eliminated. While it is recommended to use the phrase of “sexual minority,” some people also use the term in the plural form (LGBTs) to diverse the meanings.

Figure 1. Sexuality Map

Source: Diversity Survey 2015 (Dentsu Diversity Lab)

Definition for sexual minorities is changing with the times. It was only recently that the description of the homosexuality as “abnormal sexual desire” has disappeared from Kojien the dictionary in 1991. In Japan, we have come to see it on variety shows that popular male talents called “oneé characters,” who are dressed in female costumes and the talk shows featuring various types of sexual minorities. Japan seems to become more tolerant and more aware of those people. But the reality is not that easy. Heartache events are still occurring as usual without our awareness like a student who committed suicide because it was made public to others that he is homosexuality, homosexuals have been driven out of accommodation, and family cannot understand them.

Awareness and Market Opportunity in Japan

“Dentsu Diversity Lab” (DDL), an in-company organization for handling diversity issues at Dentsu, conducted extensive research on sexual minorities including LGBT for 69,989 people aged between 20 to 59 years old in 2015. No less than 7.6 percent of respondents replied they recognized themselves as the sexual minority, one in about 13 Japanese people proved to be sexual minorities. Furthermore, DDL estimated that the market size of products and services for sexual minorities is 5.94 trillion yen.


In addition, the consumer trend spreading to the general population that supports and assists the sexual minorities emerges and is named “Rainbow consumption” (Rainbow is often used as a symbol of sexual minority actives) and Dentsu expects it as a form of new consumption. Because of Dentsu, a major Japanese advertisement company, conducted this survey which suggests that the interest and understanding of Japanese society’s diversity has deepened.

Incidentally, in the previous survey conducted in 2012, sexual minorities were 5.2%. As a background of increase in percentage in this survey, it is inferred that increased opportunities for ordinary people to touch information on homosexuality and that people who had a sense of incongruity until now noticed this problem through the formulation of partnership provisions of Shibuya Ward over the past three years and the confession of famous people.

>>To be continued…


Dentsu Diversity Lab





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