The U.S. ambassador to Japan said Wednesday he hopes that the Japanese parliament will enact "clear, unambiguous" legislation to protect sexual minorities, adding he has "full confidence" in Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's leadership on the issue.

Rahm Emanuel told a press conference in Tokyo that he expects the Diet to "take the steps necessary to be a clear, unambiguous voice not only for tolerance but against discrimination" toward sexual minorities.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Feb. 15, 2023. (Kyodo)

His comments came as the ruling and opposition blocs seek to enact a law to facilitate understanding of the LGBT community in Japan during the current parliamentary session through June 21.

Calls for enacting such legislation have been growing since a close aide to the premier made discriminatory remarks against LGBT people earlier this month.

The ambassador said he wants to "compliment" Kishida on his "swift" action to sack the aide, Masayoshi Arai, on Feb. 4, a day after Arai told reporters he would "not want to live next door" to an LGBT couple and that he does "not even want to look at" LGBT people.

"I have full confidence based on the conversations I had with him that under his leadership, the Diet session will adopt legislation to reflect the values and opinions of the Japanese people," Emanuel said.

The ambassador cited an opinion survey in which 64.3 percent of respondents said new laws are needed to promote better understanding of sexual minorities.

Japan remains the only Group of Seven nation that does not legally recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.

Many members of Kishida's conservative LDP have opposed the concept, arguing in favor of traditional family structures.

In May 2021, the ruling and opposition blocs agreed on a draft bill for promoting the understanding of sexual minorities, but the LDP leadership decided not to submit it to the Diet as conservative members opposed a phrase in it saying "discrimination is unacceptable," arguing the scope of what was discriminatory was unclear.

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