All About Japan

Naha Recognizes Same-Sex Couples

| LGBT , Okinawa

Naha—the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture—announced that it will be officially recognizing same-sex couples with “partnership certificates” starting July 8, 2016. Naha is the fifth Japanese municipality to issue same-sex partnership certificates, following Takarazuka in Hyogo Prefecture.

While same-sex partner certificates are not the same as legal marriage in Japan, they still represent an official recognition of the couple’s relationship, which could help in situations like purchasing housing, hospital visitation rights, purchasing family plans at businesses and more.

While there haven’t been any official reasons given behind Naha’s decision, culturally Okinawa is very distinct from mainland Japan. It was a different country, the Ryukyu Kingdom, until 1879 when it was annexed by Japan, then occupied by America after World War II until given back to Japan in 1972. Okinawa has a long history of adapting to and accepting other cultures, and this could just be the next step in that history.

Japanese bureaucracy is infamously slow, but if the domino effect continues across the country, and the movement gains momentum, then perhaps we’ll see even more change in the near future.

Related Stories:
Takarazuka becomes fourth Japanese municipality to recognize same-sex partnerships
Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward to offer marriage certificates to same-sex couples
Two Tokyo wards issue Japan’s first ever same-sex partnership certificates