Tokyo district will recognise gay relationships for the first time in Japan

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For the first time in Japan, a district of Tokyo has announced plans to recognise gay couples’ relationships through “partnerships” certificates.

The certificates will be issued by the Shibuya district, which hosts many international companies, and is regarded as a business hub.

Speaking of the plans, the mayor of the district said the legislation was intended to encourage equality and diversity.

The mayor, Toshitake Kuwahara said: “We have decided to issue the ‘partnership certificate’ as part of our drive to create a society that respects people regarded as a sexual minority.”

Around 217,000 residents live in the ward, a number which includes about 10,000 foreigners.

One official responsible for drafting the plans said they would encourage businesses and hospitals to recognise the partnerships of gay couples, despite the certificates only holding symbolic significance.

The legal recognition of same-sex relationships is currently banned in Japan, as the country’s constitution defines marriage as “a union based on the mutual consent of parties from both sexes.”