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Panasonic in Japan to recognize same-sex partners of employees

Panasonic in Japan to recognize same-sex partners of employees

The Panasonic stand at the CES2016 show in Las Vegas in January

In a further sign of changing societal attitudes in Japan towards LGBTI rights, Panasonic Corp. has announced that it is to alter its in-house employee rules to recognize same-sex spouses.

Mainichi Japan reports that the company is due to amend its rules in April to afford same-sex unions the same status as opposite-sex marriages. It will also clarify in its internal policies that discrimination must not be shown to LGBT employees.

Discussions are ongoing as to what specific benefits may be extended to same-sex partners, reports Reuters.

At present, same-sex marriage is not legally recognized across Japan, but two wards in Tokyo – Shibuya and Setagaya – passed legislation to issue recognition certificates to same-sex couples in November 2015, and a third ward, the city of Inga, adopted similar legislation this week. The city of Takarazuka in Hyogo is expected to start issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples this summer.

The certificates allow couples certain benefits, such as the right to visit one another in hospital.

The Panasonic development came about following requests from employees. It’s also related to the fact that Panasonic is a major sponsor of the International Olympic Committee. The Olympic Charter calls for the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and expects all sponsors to live up to these ideals.

IBM Japan has previously announced that it will recognize same-sex partnerships, and leading mobile provide NTT DoCoMo has also said that those with same-sex partnership certificates will be recognized as families for the purposes of marriage discounts. The announcement from Panasonic – one of Japan’s biggest and most high-profile electronics brands – is likely to be followed by other corporates examining their policies.

Panasonic have been approached for further comment.