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Tuesday, 17th February 2015
In General Japan News,

Tokyo district to recognise gay relationships

The Shibuya district in Tokyo has taken a dramatic step forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual people with the announcement of plans to recognise relationships between those of alternative sexualities

Newly created Partnership Certificates will be issued by the local government, with mayor Toshitake Kuwahara claiming that the development will help to encourage equality and diversity in the entertainment and business centre.

"We have decided to issue the ‘partnership certificate’ as part of our drive to create a society that respects people regarded as a sexual minority," he said.

If passed, the legislation will recognise same-sex relationships as equivalent to marriage. The statute will be presented to the municipal assembly in early March and, if passed, will take effect from April 1st.

Openly gay politician Taiga Ishikawa, a former member of the Toshima Ward assembly, hailed Shibuya’s move as a major step forward.

"Cases overseas suggest that local municipalities’ move to grant same-sex couples more legitimate status sometimes affects national policies. So I’m very happy about it," he commented.

Some 217,000 people live in the Shibuya ward, a number that includes around 10,000 foreigners.

It is hoped that the legislation could encourage businesses and hospitals to recognise the partnerships of gay couples, although as long as Japan's government bans the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, members of the LGBT community may still face challenges.

Travel in Japan is very safe for same-sex couples since the culture is very respectful of privacy in relationships. However, it's worth remembering that public displays of affection - between a straight couple or a same-sex couple - will always draw attention.


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IOC evaluation commission notes Tokyo's 'financial strength' (26th June 2013)
Prime Minister Abe shows support for Tokyo's Olympic bid (8th January 2013)