Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2023 (TRP 2023), one of the largest LGBTQ+ events in Asia, was held on April 22nd (Saturday) and 23rd (Sunday) at Yoyogi Park (Tokyo, Japan), in celebration of the “diversity of gender, sex, sexuality and life.”

TRP 2023 was organized by specified nonprofit corporation Tokyo Rainbow Pride(TRP)Open in new window. The organization is working to realize a “Happy!” society in which everybody, regardless of their sexual orientation or identity, can live more true to themselves, feeling proud, positive and happy. Almost every year since 2012, working with LGBTQ+*1 people and Allies*2, it has organized the parade and related events. This year, about 240,000 people visited the park venue and some 10,000 people took part in the parade. The whole event was filled with cheer and positive power and was a huge success.

Kyowa Kirin set out a booth at TRP for the first time this year, and about 20 employees joined the parade. The employees seem to have gained a lot of new realizations from their conversations with visitors to TRP. Here’s a report on Kyowa Kirin’s participation in the event.

  • *1:
    LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual –which are words to describe a person’s sexual orientation–, Transgender, which describes one’s gender identity, and Questioning. The plus sign represents the idea of not leaving out any of the diverse sexual identities that are not covered by LGBTQ.
  • *2:
    Allies are people who are not LGBTQ+, but who actively take action to support LGBTQ+ people.

“Know well, think together, create together”

Photo: Tokyo Rainbow Pride venue

It was Ryoko Ibe– chief of the labor union’s head office branch and a member of the Marketing Department, Sales & Marketing Division — who first got in touch with the Diversity, Health and Organizational Development Group at the Human Resources Department and suggested that Kyowa Kirin become an exhibitor at TRP.

Ibe says: “Kyowa Kirin’s in-house regulation*3 states that employees in same-sex marriages are entitled to use the same company systems as those in opposite-sex legal marriages. I thought Kyowa Kirin should make their welcoming attitude toward LGBTQ+ known more widely to people both in and outside the company. That’s why I suggested that the labor union and the company jointly host a booth.” Because the Diversity, Health and Organizational Development Group also happened, at the time, to be thinking of taking part in the event, Ibe’s suggestion was readily accepted. And a project team was launched to prepare for Kyowa Kirin’s first hosting of a booth at TRP.

Photo: Satsuki Hirabayashi (left/Diversity, Health and Organizational Development Group Manager at the Human Resources Department) and Ryoko Ibe (right/ Chief of the labor union’s head office branch and member of the Sales & Marketing Division)

The concept of Kyowa Kirin’s booth was “Know well, think together, create together. ”Based on the DE&I Statement*3, Kyowa Kirin is working to create an inclusive workplace, where everyone understands that diversity concerns each one of us and is given opportunities to grow toward our shared vision in a fair environment. By becoming an exhibitor at the event, we wanted to let people outside the company know our way of thinking. We also wanted it to be an opportunity for us to put into practice the concept of “Know well, think together create a new society together,” which is the foundation of our DE&I initiatives.

Taking photos with ornaments made from “loss flowers” (flowers that would otherwise be thrown away)

Photo: Kanako Yamaji (Procurement Department Planning Group) and Naoki Ooshima (Wholesaler Planning Policy Group Manager at Wholesaler Business Management Department of Sales & Marketing Division) calling out to visitors with flower ornaments in their hands. The project team recruited the volunteer booth attendants on the company intranet. Nearly 20 employees — more than it had expected — applied in just a matter of days.

The Kyowa Kirin booth had flower ornaments made using “loss flowers,” which are flowers that would otherwise have been thrown away. The idea was to have visitors take photos with the ornaments. Hirabayashi says: “We wanted to support the LGBTQ+ movement as a company by providing people an opportunity to take photos to remember their visit to the event. We used “loss flowers” because we thought utilizing sustainable flowers perfectly fit our concept of wanting to communicate SDGs related messages. When the idea was proposed at a meeting, it was approved unanimously and immediately.”

Visitors to the Kyowa Kirin booth

Photo: Crystal from the United States and Alex from Canada. “We came to show our empathy with LGBTQ people. Compared with the situation in our countries, we believe Japanese society can do a lot more, so we look forward to seeing what happens from now.”
Photo: Mao and Mia from Chiba Prefecture. “Last year, the event was already over when we realized. This year, we wrote it down in our daily planners so we won’t miss it. It’s great that there’s a place where people who support LGBTQ can come together!”
Photo: Souichi and Kassy came from Tokyo with two other friends. “We joined the queue because the flower ornaments were pretty and different from what we have seen before. We liked them even better after knowing that they were sustainable flowers.”
Photo: Kyowa Kirin President and CEO Masashi Miyamoto also visited the booth with his family. “I came with my daughter and son who are both working adults in their 20s, because they were very keen to visit the event. There are a lot of young participants and there’s an atmosphere that makes everyone smile. It was encouraging to see that the event has become a major movement among the generation that will lead our future society.”

We did a survey on the SDGs topics people are most interested in

At the booth, we also introduced this MIRAI PORT*4 website. On MIRAI PORT*4, we distribute SDGs-related content from five perspectives: “PEOPLE”, “PROSPERITY”, “PLANET”, “PEACE“ and “PARTNERSHIP.” To find out what people are interested in, we asked visitors to put a sticker under the topic they are most concerned about.

Photo: Taku, Kanabrit and Mina came from Tokyo. Two of them chose “PEACE” considering the current world affairs, while the other picked “PLANET,” because “Earth is a precious place that is the source of all things.”

Many people told us it was difficult to choose just one, because all were important topics. We gave out a total of 1,500 stickers. “PEOPLE,” “PROSPERITY,” “PLANET” and “PEACE” each got nearly the same number of stickers. Takashi Yoshinaga of the Human Resources Department says, “I felt that everyone who I talked to at the booth were highly-minded and eager to make the world a better place. Some people told us they frequently visit our MIRAI PORT*4 website and even told us what kind of articles they want to read more of. Their opinions make our daily work more worthwhile and enhance our sense of mission.”

  • *4:
    Website "MIRAI PORT" is already closed.

Experience the first step toward diversity by taking part in the parade

Photo:The parade passing through Shibuya

In the afternoon of April 23rd (Sunday), about 20 employees who volunteered joined the parade as part of the general incorporated association Get in touch!Open in new window group. Starting from Yoyogi Park, they walked through the streets of Shibuya and Harajuku for about two hours.

Photo: Human Resources Department’s Diversity, Health and Organizational Development Group Manager Takashi Yoshinaga taking part in the parade
Photo: Sian Abel Head of Global HRBP, Global HR, Kyowa Kirin, “Compared to other parades which I took part in in the UK before, I feel it seems to be a little smaller. However, I believe this event is wonderful in putting a spotlight onto a very important topic and making people smile.”
Photo: Human Resources Department’s Diversity, Health and Organizational Development Group leader Masahiko Yasuda gave high fives and chatted with people by the roadside. He said, “I realized it was important to actually take part in the parade and experience it for oneself.”
Photo: Ken came to Kyowa Kirin’s booth the day before the parade and got friendly with the employees. At the parade, he was seen shouting “Happy Pride!” together with them. He says, “Every year, I enjoy watching videos of the parade to look back and feel glad to have taken part in it.”

After the parade, some employees said they felt they were attending a genuinely fun event, rather than an event for solving issues. Others said they didn’t realize that so many people had come to watch the parade from the roadside, and that it was a good experience.

Creating a world where there’s no need for parades

Photo: Yui Toyoda, a member of the executive committee at the labor union’s head office branch and a member of the R&D Division’s Clinical Development Center, took part in the parade with family. She said, “I felt it was an occasion to send a message that everyone is different and everyone is wonderful. It gave me a very warm feeling.”

After the TRP 2023, Hirabayashi of the Human Resources Department said, with deep emotion, “Last year, two people from my department including myself took part in the parade, and that was it. I am filled with joy and gratitude that so many employees joined the event this year.” She added, “Since we were able to connect with people who are interested in the theme, we want to develop this into a new in-house initiative, rather than let it be a one-off.”

The labor union’s Ibe smiled and said, “I hope that one day there’ll no longer be a need for parades like this and our company and society can become a place where everyone can be themselves and live as they would wish. We would like to exhibit at next year’s TRP again, and do so in an even more substantial way than this year.” After hosting a booth and taking part in the parade at this year’s TRP, it will be exciting to watch what kind of changes will evolve in and outside the company.

work with Pride 2022 Gold

In 2022, Kyowa Kirin received the highest “Gold” recognition in the Pride Index, which is an evaluation of initiatives that support LGBTQ+ in the workplace. Kyowa Kirin continues to carry out all kinds of activities to create a comfortable working environment for everyone and to become a company where employees can work with pride and a sense of fulfilment.

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