Home [ AND THE WORLD ] An East Asian Community ... for everyone?

An East Asian Community ... for everyone?

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The government of Yukio Hatoyama attaches great importance to developing an "East Asian community".  The basic concept stems from the philosophy of "yu-ai", or "fraternity", within which people respect the freedom and human dignity of others.  "Yu-ai" means not only the independence of people but also their coexistence.

But how does this apply to transgender, transsexual, homosexual and other people who may be marginal members of national communities, especially in a very conservative society like Japan’s?

Despite the enactment of the Gender Identity Disorder Law in 2003, only a fraction of Japan's transgender community has changed their gender status on official registers and it remains something that many feel uncomfortable about.

This issue is now attracting attention since the Osaka-born Ai Haruna recently became the first Japanese contestant to won Miss International Queen 2009 transsexual beauty pageant, held in Thailand. 

Haruna is a television personality who is well known for her impersonations of Japanese singers.  She claims that transsexuals in Japan "tend to be treated as oddballs and many remain reserved."  Haruna’s prize can only be helpful in terms of drawing attention to the plight of the transgender community, and the need for a more open and tolerant Japanese society.

Among the future members of the East Asian Community are some like the Philippines and Thailand which, though less developed economically and politically, are more open and tolerant of sexual diversity.  For a true community to be developed, common values and attitudes will be necessary, most notably a broad-based concept of human rights.  And in this regard, these latter countries may make an important contribution to forging East Asian Community values and attitudes.