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Japanese Companies Endorse Digital Same-Sex Partnership Certificates


The Asian nation does not legally recognize same-sex marriage, but a growing movement in the business community has devised a work-around.

A nonprofit in Japan has devised a plan to push for same-sex marriage in the nation.

The Famiee Project is creating digital partnership certificates for same-sex couples that would be recognized by businesses enrolled in the program.

These certificates would confer rights to the same-sex partners of employees, such as parental leave and health insurance. Eventually, Famiee Project hopes to extend their use to other areas, like joint bank accounts. The documents will employ a digital ledger and QR codes for nationwide access and verification.

At least 17 companies, including insurers Sompo Japan and Hotto Link and the investment bank Mizuho Financial Group, have signed on already. The Famiee Project aims to have 100 enrolled by July.

Koki Uchiyama, founder of Famiee Project, said the goal is to extend rights to same-sex couples while also sending a message to the federal government about the need for marriage equality.

"If we have a big network of corporations that support us, we can persuade the government to change the law," Koki Uchiyama, founder of Famiee Project, told Reuters.

"That kind of movement is already happening in Japan," Uchiyama added.

Currently, Japan does not have same-sex marriage. A growling list of cities and regions recognize partnership certificates, which do not carry the weight of the law but encourage hospitals and landlords to confer equal protections. Polls show that the vast majority of the Asian nation's population, especially people under 60 (78 percent), support same-sex marriage.

Despite this surge of support, the Liberal Democratic Party, the ruling party in Japan, has been resistant to the movement. In a 2019 interview with The New York Times, Taiga Ishikawa, the first out gay man elected to Japan's Parliament, said politicians' "outdated views" were to blame. Some still mistakenly believe "that same-sex relationships are a 'hobby' or will add to the declining birthrate," Ishikawa said.

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