Same-Sex Couples to Be Recognized in Sapporo
Sapporo, which has a population of nearly two million people and is the largest city on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, has announced plans to implement a system next year recognizing same-sex couples as having a marital relationship status. The new system will provide documents recognizing same-sex relationships to same-sex couples who swear an oath of their partnership. However, the documents will not be legally binding and will only offer same-sex couples opportunities such as being recognized as partners when buying life insurance or receiving family phone plan discounts.
In November 2015, Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward and Setagaya Ward both announced they would be issuing Japan’s first same-sex partnership certificates. But again, these certificates are not legally binding and serve only as a means of encouraging businesses and governments to recognize these relationships.
In recent years, LGBT issues have been gathering recognition in Japan and this is a positive next step, although it appears there may be a long way to go before same-sex couples are legally recognized to the same capacity as male/female couples.
In December 2015 Japan released the results of its first national same-sex marriage survey. The survey found that only around half of the respondents were supportive of same-sex marriage.
There have been other positive steps though in the past couple of years with businesses offering wedding ceremony services to same-sex couples, and companies such as Panasonic recognizing same-sex marriages.
Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward to begin legally recognizing 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