TV commentator and academic Robert Campbell, who came out as gay in response to lawmaker Mio Sugita’s recent high-profile homophobic remarks, has shared his thoughts on his decision to speak up with The Asahi Shimbun.

Campbell, 60, who is director of the National Institute of Japanese Literature and a professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, opened up in an interview at his Tokyo home on Aug. 15.

Campbell cited on his blog on Aug. 12 how a large number of Japanese often tell surveys that they personally do not know any LGBT people because many LGBT feel insecure to say "that is me" in Japan.

“I would like Japan to become a society where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) can simply say ‘We are here,’” he wrote.

Campbell also revealed in his blog that he and his partner will mark their 20th anniversary as a couple in 2019.

Lower House lawmaker Sugita, who is a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, recently whipped up a storm of criticism over her comments in a magazine article she wrote. She called gay couples “unproductive” because they cannot produce children and, therefore, do not contribute to the prosperity of the nation.

Campbell, however, said that Sugita’s “unproductive” remark that sparked a national debate is not “even worth paying attention to,” but that he found other paragraphs more problematic.

He referred to lines that Sugita wrote from her experience at a girls’ high school she attended, where female students often had pseudo-romances with other females, but eventually, “they all had romances with men, and naturally got married to men.”

“She wrote that being attracted to a person of the same sex is a transitory phenomenon, and ‘all’ of them ‘naturally’ married people of the opposite sex,” said Campbell. “Moreover, there she used the term ‘sexual preference’ rather than ‘sexual orientation.’”

“These are typical of the false claims that torment young people in the closet,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he decided to come out publicly as he was concerned how Sugita’s comments are being disseminated widely through the Internet, and hurting many people.

“To rebut Sugita's article, I thought I should identify myself and talk about my experiences in the first person.”

The U.S.-born scholar also told The Asahi Shimbun that he married his long-term Japanese partner in New York in 2017.

Campbell said his close circle of friends and colleagues always knew about them, but that they had not publicly declared their relationship or marriage until now.

He said he personally has never been treated badly in Japan or faced discrimination in his career for being gay, but also knows that many people do not share such easy experiences.

“There are many sexual minorities in Japan who cannot exercise their due rights at different stages of their life,” he said.

Campbell pointed out that Japanese society does not try to “actively exclude” sexual minorities, but that it also “does not provide official recognition in the legal system.”

“It is time to change those social attitudes,” said Campbell.