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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 April 1 - 7  > Same-sex couple certification ordinance passed in Shibuya
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2015 April 1 - 7 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Same-sex couple certification ordinance passed in Shibuya

April 1, 2015
Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward Assembly on March 31 passed by majority vote an ordinance bill to issue domestic partnership certificates to same-sex couples. Shibuya became the first municipality in Japan to issue such a certificate.

The Japanese Communist Party, Democratic Party of Japan, and Komei Party voted for the bill while the Liberal Democratic Party voted against the bill.

The ordinance calls for human rights of sexual minorities to be respected. Recipients can use the certificate to apply for family allowances from their employers, visit their partners in hospital, or rent housing as a family.

The certificate, however, lacks binding legal effectiveness. So, certified couples are unable to receive legal benefits, including claiming a tax deduction for a spouse or claiming their partners as a dependent in health insurance programs.

In addition, applicants for the certificate need to fulfill various requirements, such as obtaining notarized documents.

Miyaji Motoi, professor at Meiji Gakuin University, commented that while Shibuya’s partnership certification system has its limitations, it is an important step forward toward equal treatment for same-sex couples in their everyday lives.

A lesbian couple living in Shibuya said, “We are so glad that the ward government is now ready to recognize us as a family. We hope that the central government will start discussions on this issue so that someday we will be able to get married.”

Past related article:
> Discussion on same-sex marriage has finally begun in Japan [February 23, 2015]
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