Photo/IllutrationTaiga Ishikawa, center, celebrates with his supporters in his office in Tokyo’s Yotsuya on July 22 after his election to an Upper House seat is announced. (Kosuke Tauchi)

A champion for the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, Taiga Ishikawa was elected to the Upper House for the first time, winning a seat in the proportional representation system on July 21.

Ishikawa, 45, who is openly gay male, ran on the ticket of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ).

He has been campaigning on recognizing same-sex marriages, aiming for a society in which diversity is respected.

“I was calling for the acknowledgement of LGBT people in the election,” Ishikawa said at his campaign office in Tokyo after winning an Upper House seat. “A lot of people all over Japan plucked up their courage to vote for me. This acknowledges that we are here.”

Many supporters came to his office on the night of July 21 to share in the drama. They watched up-to-the-minute election returns on TV.

When TV news reported around 4:45 a.m. on July 22 that it was almost certain that he would win, Ishikawa and his supporters erupted in joy.

His party is introducing a bill for eliminating discrimination against LGBT people and a marriage equality bill.

“I would like to do my best to enact both pieces of legislation,” Ishikawa said. “I want to support vulnerable people in this society as a politician.”

After coming out as gay in 2011, Ishikawa won election to the Toshima Ward assembly the same year as a member of the opposition Social Democratic Party. In 2013, he ran unsuccessfully for the party's top leadership position.

Ishikawa left the SDP in February last year and was given the endorsement by the CDPJ in November.

He is the second openly gay politician to be elected to the Diet.