The city of Takarazuka, in Hyogo prefecture will start issuing ‘partnership’ certificates to gay couples in June next year.
‘One of the primary missions of local governments is to stand on the side of people who feel uncomfortable living in this society,’ Mayor Tomoko Nakagawa said on Monday (30 November).
‘This is a step forward to encourage the drive for recognizing same-sex marriages across Japan and ultimately push the Diet to start discussions on the issue.’
Takarazuka is the first local goverment in Japan’s western Kansai region to recognize same-sex unions and the third after Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards.
Gay couples living in the city who swear a ‘partnership oath’ will be granted certificates signed by the mayor and will be eligible to receive public services for married couples.
But unlike the Shibuya, the partnership systems in Takarazuka and Setagaya do not require private businesses to recognize gay couples.
The Japanese constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but local governments are trying to force a change by recognize gay couples in their jurisdictions.
However, only one lesbian couple has registered in Shibuya since it started issuing certificates on 5 November.