J-pop singer Hikaru Utada comes out as non-binary

Hikaru Utada's debut record First Love is the bestselling album of all time in Japan. PHOTO: HIKARU UTADA/INSTAGRAM

TOKYO - Singer Hikaru Utada, one of the bestselling artistes in Japan, has come out as non-binary.

In an Instagram live stream on Saturday (June 26), Utada said: "It's the month of June and I'm non-binary. So, happy Pride month."

Utada's imaginary best friend, a teddy bear stuffed toy named Kuma (Japanese for bear), was also said to be gay.

Earlier in the month, Utada had shared on Instagram account @kuma_power, named after the bear, how traditional gender markers made the singer uncomfortable.

"I'm sick of being asked if I'm 'Miss or Missus' or choosing between 'Miss/Mrs/Ms' for everyday things. It makes me uncomfortable to be identified so markedly by my marital status or sex, and I don't relate to any of those prefixes," wrote the 38-year-old.

"Every time, I feel like I'm forced to misrepresent myself. I long for an alternative option, one that anybody of any gender or social standing could use."

Utada also called the gender-neutral prefix Mx, pronounced "mix", awesome and hoped it would be more widely used.

The singer-songwriter-producer's debut record First Love (1999) is the bestselling album of all time in Japan.

Utada, who is twice divorced, has a five-year-old son from their second marriage.

The announcement was widely praised on social media.

One Twitter user wrote: "Utada Hikaru coming out as non-binary as a person of influence in Japan is one of the bravest things I've seen."

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