Partnership certificates issued to same-sex couples in Tokyo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has taken its next step to recognise same-sex couples in Japan.

A same-sex couple in Tokyo receiving their partnership certificate.
Image: Twitter: @prideinlaw

Japan has taken its next step in recognising LGBTQ+ couples by officially issuing partnership certificates to same-sex couples in Tokyo.

It was announced in December 2021 that the governor of Tokyo is ready to recognise same-sex partnerships and will be bringing it into action in the new financial year from April 2022. Japan does not legally recognise same-sex marriage but has given LGBTQ+ couples the right to legally apply for a certificate under the Tokyo Partnership Oath System. This certificate will allow same-sex couples to be eligible to apply for municipal housing and include their children’s names on their partnership certificates but it won’t cover issues with adoption, inheritance and spousal visas.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government began accepting applications for a same-sex partnership certificate under the new system in mid-October. They also offered the queer couples applying to receive their certificates online should they wish to protect their identities. People aged 18 or over who live or work in Tokyo are allowed to apply. Earlier today the first couples to receive this certificate were seen posing with the certificate in hand and big smiles all around.


One couple has shared their glee about receiving this partnership certificate stating that a large weight has been lifted off of their shoulders. Miki and Katie have told AFP, “My biggest fear has been that we would be treated as strangers in an emergency.”

Although a number of Japanese municipalities have recognised same-sex couples through partnership certificates, the LGBTQ+ community considers this news a huge step to get the Japanese government closer to same-sex marriage. Tokyo is now the most populated jurisdiction to allow same-sex couples to be legally recognised by the government, with a population of over 14 million people. Japan remains the only Group of Seven (G7) country to not recognise same-sex couples nationally.

In a survey conducted by Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, they gathered the nation’s opinion on same-sex marriage. 57% stated that they were in favour while only 37% admitted they were against marriage equality. Despite these numbers, there were still government officials that admitted they find gay marriage “disgusting” but were met with backlash from the citizens of Japan. The leading LGBTQ+ activist group in Japan, Marriage For All Japan, continues to lead the way to try and have marriage equality all across the country by keeping people aware of the rising issues and hosting historical demonstrations year after year.

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