Japan Data

Over 70% of Japanese Live in Municipalities Issuing Same-Sex Partnership Certificates


In the eight years since the first same-sex partnership certificates were introduced by the Tokyo municipalities of Shibuya and Setagaya, the system has expanded to cover 70.9% of the population.

A survey conducted jointly by NPO Nijiiro Diversity and Shibuya in Tokyo found that 328 Japanese municipalities have adopted same-sex partnership systems as of June 28, 2023. This is a year-on-year increase of over 100, as compared to the 219 municipalities as of June 2022. At present, 70.9% of the population in Japan has access to such systems in their municipalities, with a total of 5,171 partnership certificates issued to couples.

Same-Sex Partnership Systems and Registered Couples

Under the partnership systems, same-sex couples who live together can register for a certificate recognizing their relationship as equivalent to marriage. Obtaining a certificate makes it possible for homosexual partners to be recognized as a family and enjoy the same administrative services as a heterosexual couple, such as being able to apply for public housing.

The number of municipalities introducing partnership systems surpassed 200 in April 2022, and expanded to cover more than 60% of the Japanese population in November of that year when Tokyo, with its 14 million residents adopted such a system.

Same-Sex Partnership Systems by Region

Partnership systems have been introduced by local governments as a way of compensating in part for the disadvantages couples face from the fact that Japan does not allow same-sex marriage.

In 2019, same-sex couples filed lawsuits to five district courts, claiming that the current law against same-sex marriage violates the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of marriage and equality under the law. Each district court handed down its ruling by June 2023, but their decisions were divided. Sapporo and Nagoya stated that the law was unconstitutional and Osaka that it was constitutional, while the Tokyo and Fukuoka courts declared that the legal system was in “a state of unconstitutionality.”

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Following the decision issued by the Nagoya District Court, lawyers hold up a paper outside indicating the court’s “unconstitutional” verdict on May 30, 2023. © Jiji.)

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