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Two Tokyo districts have begun issuing same-sex partnership certificates

By Micah Sulit

Following a landmark local ordinance that was passed in March, Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards have begun issuing certificates recognising same-sex partnerships.

Eight happy couples were awarded their papers today, according to the Japan Times.

Shibuya certificate

The certificates are not legally binding and are symbolic for the most part, as Japan has not yet legalised same-sex marriage or partnerships. However, they do require hospitals and businesses in the two districts to give certificate holders the same treatment and benefits as straight couples.

For Setagaya couple Yumiko Takashima and Sachiko Takano, who have been together for 17 years, this certainly means a lot.

“I really appreciate Setagaya ward for recognising us as a family,” said Takashima, a 45-year-old sign language interpreter.

He told the Japan Times, “My [deaf] partner is prone to injury. But only family members could sign a surgical consent form. I know he is my family, but generally our relationship had not been [officially] acknowledged.

“But with this official certificate with the mayor’s name on it, I hope the hospital will be more tolerant (toward our partnership).”

Per Shibuya’s ordinance, same-sex couples aged 20 and above, and residing in Shibuya, can apply for a certificate after filing an official declaration that their relationship is based on love and mutual trust.

At a press conference Thursday, Setagaya mayor Nobuto Hosaka said he hopes the “small first step” will lead to eliminating discrimination against same-sex couples.

“I believe it will lead to similar movements in municipalities, and trigger national-level discussions to revise the law,” he said, promising to continue pro-LGBT efforts.

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