Top 4 Things To Know About The Upcoming Same-sex marriage Bill In Japan

As we are moving forward and respecting people’s identity and sexuality, the laws are changing according to the norms of our society. This is why same-sex marriage is going to be legalized in Japan this year or at the beginning of next year. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn more about same-sex marriage in Japan.

Same-sex marriage in Japan


Same-sex unions are slowly being authorized by local governments but are still not allowed nationwide. This is because of the 1947 Constitution and its conservative interpretations.

After the borough, the whole city, gay marriage will finally be recognized in Tokyo, only in 2023. In 2015, the Shibuya borough in Japan’s capital was the first local government to offer union certificates to people of the same sex. This still does not exist on a national scale.

Japan is the last G7 country not to recognize same-sex marriage. The government believes that such a union is “not provided for” by the 1947 Constitution, emphasizing the need for “mutual consent of both sexes” for marriage, leaving room for interpretation. Even if this remains somewhat symbolic, some districts or cities- about a hundred in all have been introducing certificates that are similar to civil partnerships for the past ten years.

This is still very limited, apart from simplifying specific procedures such as renting an apartment or visiting one’s spouse in the hospital. Very few gay couples in Japan have obtained such certificates so far.

A dozen same-sex couples in Japan have taken legal action against the state since 2019 to obtain legal recognition of their unions. In March this year, they obtained the first victory when a court in Sapporo (northern Japan) ruled that the non-recognition of same-sex marriage was contrary to the Constitution, as it guarantees the equality of all citizens before the law.

A long way to go


This is enough to put pressure on Japanese parliamentarians. However, the battle is still far from being won: for years, the Japanese government, controlled by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, has been holding back on the subject.

Yet ancient documents attest to relationships between samurai and other men. But as the archipelago opened up to foreigners in the second half of the 20th century, Western prejudices against homosexuality took hold.

According to a survey published in November by a conservative daily, 61% of Japanese people favor gay marriage. But attitudes are changing. Since 2015, Shibuya, a bustling district in the heart of Tokyo, has offered its residents a “gay union pact”, which allows same-sex couples to rent an apartment more easily or to grant their spouse visitation rights in case of hospitalization. This “registered partnership” also exists in several other Japanese cities: Osaka, Sapporo, and Fukuoka.

In modern Japan


Despite recent global trends that suggest a high level of tolerance and open scenes in very cosmopolitan cities (such as Tokyo or Osaka), Japanese queer men and women often hide their sexual orientation, and many marry people of the opposite sex. It should be remembered that in the 1970s, the Japanese communist left had a violently homophobic discourse, including among intellectuals.

The Japanese Communist Party is a very small minority and does not have the same discourse today. Westerners often idealize the queer condition in Japan. According to TBS, nearly a quarter of young queer do not attend school because of the “ijime” (intimidation, bullying, and humiliation) they are subjected to by other students.

On the other hand, according to a 2007 study by an American think tank, only 28% of Japanese respondents believe that homosexuality is unacceptable in society. In 2015, a study estimated the number of LGBT adults in Japan at 7.7%, but coming out remains rare.

Current policy and Laws


There are no laws in Japan prohibiting queer behavior, and legal protections exist for queer and transgender people. Consensual sex between adults of the same sex is legal, but some prefectures set the age of sexual majority for queer higher than for heterosexuals. There are LGBT associations in Japan, but they are divided and march separately in Tokyo.

While there is no national law protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, local governments, such as Tokyo, have passed several laws such as prohibiting discrimination in hiring based on sexual identity.

The major political parties are not very vocal in public on the issue of gay rights. Despite the recommendations of the Council for the Promotion of Human Rights, Japan’s Diet has yet to vote on sexual orientation, and there are no laws in the civil code.

The Dawn Party officially supports same-sex marriage. A few political figures, however, have begun to come out publicly. Kanako Otsuji, a member of parliament from Osaka, came out as a lesbian in 2005. Two years earlier, in 2003, she came out as a lesbian. Two years earlier, in 2003, Aya Kamikawa became the first transgender person to win an official election in Japan.

In 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed reservations about marriage for same-sex couples. In the October 2017 parliamentary elections, the Liberal Democratic Party (in power since 2012) promised to pass a law for better consideration of LGBT people. In 2003, Aya Kamikawa was the first trans woman elected as a city councilor in Japan, and in 2017, Tomoya Hosoda, the first trans man.

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