Midori Kawamukai’s experience as a minority student while studying abroad, and now her current work furthering access to education and career development through corporate citizenship in Japan, influenced her path to becoming a strong ally. While conducting fieldwork, Midori met many diverse families and underserved children. “This might be the first time I started thinking about the real meaning of inclusion.”
However, it was her relationship with a former colleague that inspired her to become one of the founding members of the Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN) in Japan. Despite being openly gay at Oracle, Midori’s colleague remained closeted at his last employer, and had advocated for safer workplaces for all sexual minorities, no matter if they were open or in the closet. When he tragically passed away, Midori felt the passing of a baton and rallied with her colleagues to start a community to create awareness around equal rights and support for our LGBTQ+ colleagues.
In a society where sexual orientation is deeply private, Midori is passionate about bringing diversity and inclusion to Japan’s next generation. “Japan is a very monoculture country. People are educated to follow the rules and be the same. Japan needs to transform. I believe that appreciating diversity, challenging old ideas, and being free of traditional customs are the keys for coming generations,” she explains.
Being active in the OPEN community, Midori has learned that putting someone in a category isn’t important. “I’ve learned it’s more important to understand that there are many diverse sexual orientations/gender identities/sexual expressions, and that it would make more sense to embrace the diversity, rather than differentiate them,” she states. “If we’re able to do this, we’re also able to appreciate other diversity. If we’re able to create an inclusive workplace for all diversity, we can achieve great things together. If we can create a really inclusive workplace, I believe it creates great value for everyone.”
Finally, in her courageous effort to continue to show vulnerability, Midori chooses to share her very personal story. She discloses her breast cancer diagnosis and her recovery from surgery: “I’ll go through all the treatments in the coming years; I believe I can handle it with my team’s support. We’ve always been a great example of diversity and inclusion.”
She also equates, “The breast cancer rate in Japan is approximately 9%, which is also very close to the LGBTQ+ rate in Japan. I never thought of supporting minorities for myself, but through helping create an inclusive environment, it’s supporting me back right now. The boundary between majority and minority is vague. Please take a moment to consider it.”