Japan Bristles at Biden’s Ambassador Rahm Emanuel Pushing LGBTQIA2S+ Law: ‘Sick and Tired of the Interference’

Rahm Emanuel (L), Ambassador-Designate of the United States, fist-bumps Japan's Prime

Observers and conservative voices in Japan are increasingly uncomfortable with President Joe Biden’s ambassador to the country, Rahm Emanuel, inserting himself in domestic politics, particularly pressuring Japan’s legislature to pass a law against LGBT discrimination.

Japanese lawmakers have spent months agonizing over drafting a bill to address LGBT rights and have yet to land on a document with a chance of passing through the Diet, or legislature, at press time. Nearly a month after the conservative ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) agreed to focus on writing an LGBT bill, the LDP announced this week it would finally submit a draft prior to the G7 Summit, beginning on Friday in Hiroshima.

Polling shows most Japanese people support same-sex marriage and oppose discrimination; Japan does not have legalized same-sex marriage but often ranks low on lists of countries where LGBT people risk discrimination.

The bill is presented as an attempt to “foster understanding of sexual minorities.” The need for such a bill has generated controversy — some LGBT groups have opposed it — as have provisions involving people who identify as transgender. Some Japanese women have expressed fear that the law would allow men into sensitive women’s spaces, such as bathrooms or public baths (where, in Japan, strangers commonly bathe together but nude and separated by gender). LDP leaders expressed hope this week that the new draft of the bill would assuage those concerns.

Emanuel, as a foreign diplomat, has cannonballed into this sensitive debate, pressuring the Diet to embrace Western notions of LGBT rights. The ambassador pressured the Diet in February to become a “clear, unambiguous voice not only for tolerance but against discrimination,” asserting he had “full confidence” in conservative Prime Minister Kishida Fumio to push through a bill of Emanuel’s liking. He has since made multiple public appearances, noting polls showing Japanese public support for same-sex marriage and advocating for domestic laws to reflect those polls.

Last week, during heated partisan debates on what the text of the LGBT bill should include, Emanuel used his Twitter account to publish a video featuring the diplomats of 15 Western missions in Tokyo demanding legislation on the issue.

“He shouldn’t interfere in Japan’s domestic affairs, especially with the legislation that is not even passed in his own country. What gives him the right to control us? Is he trying to culturally colonize us?” Japanese conservative commentator Yoko Ishii asked in remarks made to Breitbart News. “Many of us Japanese are already sick and tired of the interference in domestic affairs by Ambassador Emanuel. This is making us distrust the U.S. This is making us want to stay away from the U.S. I don’t understand how he doesn’t see what he’s causing as a result of his stubborn ideology and ego.”

“Japanese conservatives attach great importance to the Japan-U.S. alliance. So I don’t want to criticize the U.S. too much, but Ambassador Emanuel’s actions are clearly wrong,” Ishii emphasized. “This interference in internal affairs is being carried out based on Ambassador Emanuel’s personal ideology.”

Ishii is among many Japanese conservatives who, despite their general friendly disposition towards the United States, have criticized Emanuel for “foreign interference” in Japan’s sovereign affairs. Complaints about American interference have become increasingly common on Japanese conservative political forums and a unifying complaint for the Japanese right.

“The ambassador’s remarks were unrelated to the Japan-U.S. relationship and were inappropriate remarks of interference in domestic affairs,” former LDP lawmaker Yamada Hiroshi said in April in response to Emanuel’s public statements at the Research Institute of Japan that month.

“Many Japanese people are so angry about this obvious overt interference in domestic affairs,” Ganaha Masako, an Okinawa-based journalist, told Fox News in early May, addressing Emanuel’s campaigning. “What they are doing is to push LGBT ideology to us, and it’s destroying our culture.”

Fukui Prefectural University professor Shimada Yoichi described the LGBT bill later that month as a “badge of honor” that Emanuel appeared to hope to bring home to the Democrats.

“By the way, in the U.S. Republican Party, ‘I gave in after being yelled at by Emanuel’ is synonymous with ‘not qualified to be a politician,'” Shimada wrote.

Emanuel — a former Congressman, White House chief of staff under far-left President Barack Obama, and notoriously inept mayor of Chicago — had no prominent background in Japanese culture or politics when Biden chose him to represent America in Tokyo. He had long nurtured a reputation as one of the most profane, undiplomatic, and generally difficult people in American politics, leaving American observers confused as to what skills he could bring to the table in managing one of the country’s most important alliances with a nation particularly unsuited to his brand of belligerence.

The right opposed Emanuel’s return to politics generally, while the far left opposed his nomination on the grounds that his mayorship of Chicago was marked by violent crime and economic collapse.

“He’s angling for a major diplomatic post, despite a well-documented record of distinctly undiplomatic behavior,” the far-left Nation magazine lamented in 2021. Sending Emanuel to the other side of the world appeared to be a compromise to keep him in the Biden administration but as far from the far-left wing of the Democrat party as possible.

Japan had little background knowledge of Emanuel as well, Ishii told Breitbart News.

“Generally speaking, nobody knew who Emanuel was before he became the U.S. ambassador unless they’re experts, politicians, and such,” Ishii explained. “Today, there’s nobody among the conservative community in Japan that doesn’t know about him because of his interference in domestic affairs.”

“When I began talking on social media about how problematic he is, many of my American followers told me how bad he was back home, and some of them were even surprised that he is the Ambassador to Japan,” she continued. “I was surprised to learn about his reputation for a moment because I thought Japan deserved better, but then, hearing that, his actions made sense to me.”

In a friendly profile on Sunday, the Washington Post claimed that Emanuel’s meddling and abrasive style had “wooed” Japan, where the public had taken a “surprising shine” to him.

“He has been an unusually hands-on, visible and outspoken American ambassador. The kind that Japan has never seen before,” the Post conceded, claiming his love of Japanese food and public transport had “endeared” Japanese people to him. Yet the profile could not mask the cracks in that veneer of harmony, noting that Emanuel “has his hands in seemingly every issue, including tasks that typically wouldn’t involve an ambassador.”

The newspaper noted his “particularly activist approach” to the LGBT issue and his apparent lack of diplomatic protocol, such as going over the head of South Korea’s ambassador to Tokyo and “giving political messaging tips to Japanese officials.”

“Rahm represents one part of our position, and I think it’s helpful. Sometimes a bit too outspoken, but nevertheless, the benefit is bigger than the damage,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kihara Seiji told the newspaper, an apparent compliment save for the Washington Post‘s description of his country, “Japan is so polite that it’s considered too rude to tell someone a flat-out no.”

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