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Insurer among first businesses to recognize same-sex partnerships in Japan

Insurer among first businesses to recognize same-sex partnerships in Japan

Marchers at Japan Tokyo Pride in 2012

In the same week that Japanese gay couples were allowed to register for an official ‘partnership certificate’ in Tokyo, a Japanese life insurer has confirmed that it is to expand its coverage for same-sex couples.

Until now, life insurance policies issued by Japanese insurers required the insured to designate a spouse or close blood relative.

From yesterday, Lifenet Insurance Co. will allow a policyholder to designate a same-sex partner as a beneficiary.

It’s believed to be the first Japanese insure to offer this benefit – reflecting changing societal attitudes.

‘I hope that by having this system, there will be more acceptance of people with non-traditional families as equals by society, Lifenet’s president, Daisuke Iwase, said yesterday, reports Wall Street Journal.

Same-sex relationships have no legal recognition in Japan, but regional governments are beginning to introduce initiatives to afford gay relationships certification.

Shibuya ward in Tokyo is among the first, granting its first ‘partnership certificate’ this morning to lesbian couple Hiroko Masuhara and Koyuki Higashi. Setagaya ward, also in Tokyo, also begun issuing certificates today.

Although the certificates will have no legal standing, several agencies and businesses have said that they will formally recognize them – with Mobile network carriers KDDI Corp. and NTT Docomo Inc. saying they will expand family discounts to same-sex couples with certification.

When Shibuya ward announced its ‘partnership certificates’, it went as far as stipulating that hospitals and businesses such as real estate firms have to treat certificate holders in the same way as they would treat a married opposite-sex couple. Businesses that fail to respect the ward’s new certificates will be publicly identified.


Main image: Marchers at Tokyo Pride in 2012, by decayoftheangel, licensed via Creative Commons 2.0.