NARITA, Chiba -- A local assembly member in Chiba Prefecture has apologized for describing LGBTQ as a "disease" during a plenary session of the council earlier this month, saying his remarks were "inappropriate."
Toshikatsu Ehara, 63, a member of the Tomisato Municipal Assembly, made the original comment during a question and answer session of the assembly on Sept. 1, when asking if the city was going to change local junior high school uniforms to pay consideration to sexual minorities. Shortly after posing the question, he sought that his statement be retracted.
The assemblyman -- a member of Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the National Diet -- later apologized for the remark when speaking with the Mainichi Shimbun.
"It was inappropriate. I'm sorry if my comment caused offense," he said.
During the Sept. 1 assembly meeting, Ehara proposed that the municipal government allow students at junior high schools in the city to freely choose uniforms, whose designs have not been changed for at least 35 years.
"As of now, there are a diverse range of problems about a disease, so to speak, or LGBTQ. The board of education and schools were unaware of the issue. There were times when people could not raise their voices, but they can now," Ehara said.
He continued, "There might be children who are not sure if they have such a disease, or children who are worried about a disease that is only known to themselves."
In response to the question, an official at the Tomisato Municipal Government stated, "There exist opinions concerning diversity in sexuality. We'd like to consult with schools over the matter."
Following the exchange and a break, Ehara requested that his remark be canceled, saying, "I'd like to take back and correct my statement, in which I described LGBTQ as a disease."
Ehara is currently in his sixth term and in the past served as speaker of the assembly.
"The remark wasn't what I intended. I was trying to sum up the fact that there are other children who are distressed about their diseases, but because I uttered my statements in succession, I ended up making the remark in question," he told the Mainichi Shimbun.
(Japanese original by Tadakazu Nakamura, Narita Bureau)