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The Open Japan Project

The Open Japan project is a movement dedicated to helping Japan and Japanese offices become a more welcoming and accepting place for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning) people.

For Companies

When you display this badge on your website, you are communicating a number of important things to current and future staff.

Your company:

  • is LGBTQ-friendly from the CEO down and offers a welcoming and accepting environment where people can choose to be open.
  • has a common-sense approach to LGBTQ considerations.
  • is simply focused on hiring the best possible people, and sexual orientation does not factor into hiring decisions.

For Staff

If you’re considering working at a company, seeing this logo means:

  • The company is forward thinking, progressive, and dedicated to looking after their staff. All of them.
  • You have the choice to be open, without fear of career problems or harassment.
  • Most importantly, in the case where there are questions or issues, this badge means you can go to the CEO or a designated staff member for support and help.


Why are you doing this?

Many reasons.

  • It’s , and still many people feel they can’t be open to their friends, colleagues, and even family.
  • If there are LGBTQ people working in our company, we want them to feel the acceptance that non-LGBTQ people take for granted.
  • People are more motivated and do their best work when they feel happy and accepted.
  • Further, it’s just good for business. Research regularly shows more diverse teams produce better results.

Why Should Companies Do This?

Putting aside for a moment that it’s the right thing to do from a humanitarian perspective, companies should do this for very practical reasons.

If you want to survive, compete, and win, you need the best staff. If highly talented LGBTQ staff feel uncomfortable at your company, you’ll lose them to your competitors. These competitors will then proceed to beat you in the marketplace.

Where should companies put this logo?

It’s up to you. Either in the footer of every page (that’s what we do), or on the about page is fine.

Are There Similar Programs Overseas?

Yes. In America there is the “It Gets Better Project”. The goal is to show LGBTQ youth who are being bullied or marginalised that there is a brighter future in a more inclusive society, and in more inclusive companies.

This program is supported by a long list of celebrities, including President Obama, George Takei, Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga. In addition, many influential companies also support this program, including Apple, Google, Facebook, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

What if I put it on my site, and I lose a customer?

If you lose a customer simply by promoting a more inclusive work environment, perhaps that’s a customer you didn’t need.

Why do this in Japan?

In the last few years, LGBTQ issues have gradually become more mainstream in Japan. We think this is a positive development, since Japan just doesn’t have much experience with LGBTQ people, because historically they’ve been hidden in society.

People who view LGBTQ people negatively in Japan may change their views if they knew that many people they know and like are LGBTQ.

This is exactly what has happened in other countries when people (colleagues, sons, daughters, friends, parents, family) started coming out, and it often sparks a national conversation. The inevitable result of this conversation is that actually, this stuff is really not a big deal, and let’s just get on with everything.

It’s our hope this website will be part of this process.

Isn’t it troublesome for a company to implement this policy?

Personally, we think it’s more troublesome and psychologically destructive for your valued team members to need to pretend to be a different person.

Of course, for any change, there is always an adjustment period. However with CEO and management support, staff can quickly adapt to a new more inclusive environment.

Who are you?

We are Jay Winder (jay@open-japan-project.com) and Ayaka Ito (ayaka@open-japan-project.com).

This is an important project for us, but unfortunately due to work commitments, we are unable to promise timely replies to inquiries. This is also why we’ve attempted to make this social movement as self-service as possible. We appreciate your understanding.

What if a company displays this logo, and the work environment isn’t open and accepting?

This company would only be hurting themselves. Any company that tries this would only get a bad reputation. Plus, all companies displaying this logo must take the pledge.

Importantly, we’re not going to police anyone here. Displaying the logo is a way for companies to send the right message to attract the best staff, regardless of gender or orientation.

If a team member and they’re unhappy, they’ll leave. Or they’ll talk to their hiring manager and say “My expectations were very different. Can this be fixed?”

Do you think things will change in Japan?

If this movement helps one person experience an open and supportive work environment for the first time in their lives, it’ll be worth it.

It’s our hope that over time enough experiences like this will build up and have a larger impact.

How can we make all companies part of this?

We shouldn’t try.

This is opt-in, not opt-out. This should not be a method to force companies into tolerance.

There should be no campaigns forcing companies to join this program. If you want people to respect your choices, you have to respect theirs too.

Over time, companies will realise diversity is very important in building successful companies and will look for ways like this to promote their diversity-friendly working environments.

Are you working with any other organisations?

Yes. We have partnered with a Tokyo based LGBTQ support group, Fruits in Suits Japan.

Fruits in Suits Japan is a community focused on professional LGBTQ people. The Tokyo Chapter of this organization also provides training, consulting on policy, and advice on the best way to make your organization a welcoming place for your staff.

The Pledge

To download this logo, and receive the benefits of a more diverse and productive team, we ask that companies displaying this logo pledge the following:

  1. The CEO is fully aware and fully supportive of this initiative.
  2. The company offers a supportive environment for LGBTQ people, where they can choose to be open.
  3. There is a designated person in the company that LGBTQ staff can openly discuss personal matters with zero fear of negative consequences, bullying, or recrimination.

Note: In the future, we may offer additional free services, such as LGBTQ friendly open source company policy documents. For now however, these kinds of company policies are best implemented by looking at other organizations’ LGBTQ policies, such as IBM’s or Apple’s, or through consulting with an organization such as Fruits in Suits Japan.

Companies that support the Open Japan Project (will be updated as time allows)

Company Name Joined Representative I Representative II
MakeLeaps KK 2016/09/29 Jay Winder Ayaka Ito
Business in Japan 2016/09/29
Disrupting Japan 2016/09/29 Tim Romero
MerryBiz 2016/09/29 Hiroki Kudo
96 PROBLEMS 2016/09/29 Ben Watanabe Dave Smith
Vesper 2016/09/29 Yu Taniguchi John Shields
Peatix 2016/09/29
Stripe 2016/09/29 Makiko Ito
Tacchi Studios 2016/09/29 Mark McFarlane
creww_logo-62ac095db446dc4fb8d8ff6b38d9fd141724560a5c33d4025672808508c6adef Creww株式会社 2016/09/29 伊地知 天 石井 こずえ
PIPELINE株式会社 2016/09/29 Allan Watanabe
Sparkle Box 2016/09/30 太田 理加
500 Startups Japan 2016/09/30 ジェームズ・ライニー 澤山陽平
Justa Japan 2016/10/03
Zehitomo 2016/10/04 Jordan Fisher James McCarty
Code Chrysalis 2017/04/12 Kani Munidasa Yan Fan
Rich Table Inc. 2017/05/18
WOVN.io 2017/08/09 Jeff Sandford Masako Wagenaar
Score Studios LLC 2017/08/09 James Kay
Active Connector Inc. 2019/09/11 Asami Matsumoto Nichole Josh Syjueco
EDAMAME Digital Marketing Japan 2020/01/24 Cuni Shimizu