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Tokyo has begun implementing a partnership certificate scheme for same-sex couples, which for the first time allows them to be treated as married couples for certain government services, but does not provide marriage equality.
Some hope this could be a step towards equality for all of Japan.
It is currently the only country in the G7 developed countries that does not recognize same-sex unions.
However a recent poll shows that a majority of Japanese support same-sex marriage.
According to a 2021 poll by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, 57% were in favor and against — only 37%.
Despite this widespread support, the Osaka District Court ruled earlier this year that the existing same-sex marriage ban was constitutional. Then, in October, Noboru Watanabe — local representative of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party — called same-sex marriage “disgusting”. The comments were widely criticized.
However, there is movement towards greater equality. According to news site Asahi Sinbun, the scheme rolled out in the Tokyo metropolitan area was first implemented in one of its districts back in 2015, after which it expanded to nine more districts and six cities in the west of the Tokyo metropolitan area. region. The new capital-wide scheme will cover all areas of the capital with its 14 million population.
Partnership certificates, which have also been introduced in eight other prefectures in Japan, will allow same-sex couples to be treated as married when it comes to about housing, medicine, and welfare. But they will not help with matters such as adoption, inheritance, and spousal visas.
Anyone over the age of 18 who lives or works in Tokyo can apply, and by Friday, 137 applications had been submitted.
Soyoka Yamamoto, an LGBT rights activist who was one of the first to be certified on Tuesday, told reporters that she sincerely hopes “we can speed up the or to create a society in which the rights of sexual minorities are protected and become more equal.
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