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Tokyo Plans Recognition of Same-Sex Unions, But Not Marriage Equality

Tokyo Pride celebration
A Pride celebration in Tokyo

Tokyo has proposed offering certificates to same-sex couples that would give them access to privileges now denied them.

The city of Tokyo has announced a plan to give legal recognition to same-sex unions, but they will not be the same as marriages.

Officials with Tokyo's metropolitan government have proposed offering a certificate to same-sex couples, which would give them access to joint apartment rentals, hospital visitations, and other privileges that are often limited to married couples, the Associated Press reports. The plan is subject to approval by city legislators.

If it is approved, the city would begin accepting applications in October and start issuing the certificates in November, according to Agence France-Presse.

Japan's government does not recognize same-sex marriages. About 200 municipalities within the nation have offered legal recognition to same-sex relationships, although not on an equal footing with marriage. If Tokyo's proposal passes, it would be the largest city with some form of recognition.

"We collected opinions from the public for the past two months, and we heard opinions [from same-sex couples] who said they want to be recognized as partners," a Tokyo government spokesman told AFP. Some districts within Tokyo offer this recognition, but the new plan would cover the entire city. Foreign nationals as well as citizens could apply for the certificates.

The city also released a statement saying the goal in issuing the certificates is "to promote understanding among Tokyo residents about sexual diversity and to reduce inconveniences in daily lives surrounding sexual minorities in order to create more pleasant living conditions for them," the AP reports.

LGBTQ+ rights groups had campaigned for nationwide marriage equality ahead of last year's Summer Olympics, but Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's ruling party blocked any progress on the matter.

Japan is the only G7 country that does not recognize same-sex marriages. Taiwan is the only Asian country to recognize marriage equality.

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