Tag Archives: Tokyo

Third Japanese City Recognises Same-Sex Unions

In a decision announced this week, Mie Prefecture in the city of Iga has said it will be issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples from April.

This makes the region the third in Japan and first outside of Tokyo to take such a step.

Municipal officers have said they hope the move will help to reduce discrimination and ensure people in relationships have their rights protected.

Last year, the mayor of the ward, Sakae Okamoto, said he planned to bring forward the certificates, but had instructed officials to investigate the best way of going forward.

In statement released, a municipal official said

We were aware of the statistics showing that 7.6% of Japan’s population identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We concluded that if the figures are reflected here, presumably hovering around 5 to 7%, we need to do our utmost to protect the rights of such minorities.”

He added that because Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo have already taken such steps, it inspired them to follow suit.


Although these certificates are not legally binding, businesses and hospitals are being asked to honour them in the same way they would a marriage licence.

Officials have said in order for couples to be eligible, both partners have to be at least 20-years-old and reside in the city.

The will also be required to submit evidence that they are single and sign a written declaration.

Recent polls in Japan have shown that a majority of people are in favour of marriage equality.

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Tokyo Issues Japan’s First Same-Sex Marriage Certificate To This Beautiful Couple

Holding rainbow fans and grinning from ear to ear, couple – Koyuki Higashi, 30, and Hiroko Masuhara, 37 – were photographed in Tokyo this week with a very special document clutched in their hands: a marriage certificate officially recognising their same-sex union.

According to CNN, it’s the first of its kind in Japan.

Higashi, a Japanese model and television personality turned LGBT activist and her partner of four years and fellow activist, Hiroko Matsuhara were married in Tokyo’s Shibuya ward on Thursday morning.


Shibuya’s legislators voted in March to grant marriage certificates to LGBT couples, making the ward the first in Japan to recognise same-sex unions. Setagaya, another of Tokyo’s 23 wards, voted to do the same a few months later.

The local ordinances recommend that same-sex couples be granted equal rights, including hospital visitations and apartment rentals.

Still, activists insist this is an important step forward for Japan, a country where LGBT issues remain taboo.

As CNN notes, despite “recognition and protection from some local governments, Japan still has no national laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Coming out can mean getting fired, evicted or denied healthcare.”

With her new wife by her side, Higashi said.

I’m so happy. When they gave us the certificate, I cried. Our friends cried.

I hope that this will be a step forward not only for Tokyo but for the whole of Japan to become a more comfortable place to live in, because there are LGBTs nationwide.”

Across Asia, LGBT rights are limited or in many cases, non-existent. In Southeast Asia, for instance, being gay is criminalized in several countries

Japan’s LGBT Community Launch Bid for the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the Country

455 members of the LGBT community in Japan, including 142 same-sex couples, have filed an unprecedented petition to the government requesting the recognition of same-sex marriage across the country.

In the petition they argue that denying them marriage is against their human rights. It has now been submitted to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), argues that Japan is in violation of human rights and therefore its constitution by not permitting same-sex marriages, The Japan Times reported.

At a press conference one of the petitioners, a woman from Tokyo who is in her 40s, said:

I spent more than half of my life being unable to tell anything about my partner even to my parents and friends. I could only hope the children of current and future generations don’t have to live the kind of life I did and can be celebrated regardless of whether they like people of the opposite sex or not.”


Although gay marriage is not illegal in Japan, there is no framework in place to allow same-sex couples to wed, making it impossible under the current law.

The petition says that the Japanese government is denying LGBT people the principle of equality and individual dignity protected by their constitution.

The JFBA will now investigate the allegation and issue a warning to the government if a constitutional breach of rights is found.

The warning would not be legally binding but would have a “far reaching” impact on LGBT legislation in Japan, according Toshimasa Yamashita, a lawyer representing the JFBA. A warning would likely be referenced in all future trials relating to same-sex marriage, Mr Yamashita said.

The JFBA, which represents social justice cases, said this is the country’s first attempt to legalise same-sex marriages by appealing through human rights law.

Currently Shibuya, a ward of Tokyo, is the only part of Japan, which recognises same-sex partnerships. The district became the first to do so in March when the local assembly voted in favour of the change, granting same-sex couples to right to rent apartments together and have hospital visitations as family members.

The capital celebrated its LGBT community with the Tokyo Rainbow Pride march on 26 April, which over 12,000 people attended.


Members of the Japanese LGBT community submitted the bid following the landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court on 26 June which declared that the right to same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the American constitution, and Ireland becoming the first ever country to vote for marriage equality on 22 May.

The petition argues that LGBT people are suffering “a wide variety of disadvantages” and are not being given their constitutional “right to pursue happiness”.

Without the right to marry, same-sex couples are unable to make their partners as inheritance beneficiaries in the event that they die without a will or share health insurance benefits granted to married couples. And if one of the couple is not Japanese, they are not eligible to hold a spouse visa.