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Japanese Pop Star Shinjiro Atae Comes Out as Gay in Conservative Japan

By David T. Valentin

Shinjiro Atae, a pop idol involved in acting, modeling, singing, and songwriting, has come out in Japan, a country traditionally known as having conservative values.

The Japanese pop idol held a fan event where over thousands of people attended to see him. Amongst his fans where Shinjiro Atae felt comfortable, the pop idol made a 22-minute speech (which you can watch in full here on his website or through YouTube as posted above) where he discussed why he felt he had to make such a public statement.

“It has taken me a long time to be able to say I am gay,” Shinjiro writes on Instagram. “I could not even say it to myself. However, I’ve come to realize it is better, both for me, and for the people I care about, including my fans, to live life authentically than to live a life never accepting who I truly am. I hope people who are struggling with the same feeling will find courage and know they are not alone.”

In the same post, he later writes, “I held this event today because I wanted to tell as many of you as possible directly... When I think of my work in the entertainment industry and the many things for which I am grateful, it is my relationship with my fans that first comes to mind. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for standing beside me over the years.”

As many have noted, out of the G7, (the Group of Seven made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The United Kingdom and The United States) Japan is the only country in the group to not yet legalize same-sex marriage.

However, back in 2021, a Japan Court had found a same-sex ban unconstitutional. The ruling of the case came about after one of several cases brought the issue to the court of “mental suffering” based on the unequal treatment of being a same-sex couple. And although the court rejected their compensation claim for each emotionally damaged individual, the court did, however, agree that believing the wording of their constitution rejects same-sex marriages because it does not guarantee equality as it should.

While Shinjiro Atae is only one openly LGBTQ+ person, it does not go unnoticed that pop icons have quite a sway in Japan’s culture. Perhaps, if other pop icons of Japan stood up, then maybe they can drum up enough whispers to make some noise?


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