Tokyo began implementing dating checks for same-sex couples, allowing them to be treated as married in some government jobs for the first time, but not marriage equality.
Some hope it could be a step towards equality for Japan.
It is currently the only country in the G7 group of industrialized nations that does not recognize same-sex unions.
However, according to a recent poll, the majority of Japanese support same-sex marriage.
According to a 2021 poll by Japan’s NHK, 57% of people agree, while only 37% disagree.
Despite widespread support, the Osaka District Court ruled earlier this year that the current ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional. In October, Nori Watanabe, a local representative of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, called same-sex marriage “an abomination.” These comments were widely condemned.
Nevertheless, we are moving towards greater equality. According to the Asahi Shimbun, the system will be implemented in Tokyo in 2015 and was first implemented in one of its wards in 2015, and has since expanded to nine other wards and six urban locations west of the capital. The new subway system will bring it to every part of the capital and its 14 million inhabitants.
Eight other Japanese prefectures have also introduced marriage certificates, which allow same-sex couples to be treated the same as married couples in terms of housing, health care and benefits. However, they do not help with matters such as adoption, inheritance and partner visas.
Anyone over the age of 18 who lives or works in Tokyo can apply, and as of Friday, 137 applications had been submitted.
Testimonies from couples like Mike and Katie lighten the load.
“My biggest fear is that in an emergency we will be treated like strangers,” Miki told AFP, asking only to be identified.
LGBT activist Soyoka Yamamoto, who was one of the first to gather evidence on Tuesday, said she sincerely hoped “we will accelerate our efforts to create a movement to protect the rights of sexual minorities and to equalize them.”