Ai Nakajima and her wife Kristina Baumann will find this Valentine’s day particularly memorable.
The pair, who live in Yokohama near Tokyo, are part of Japan’s biggest ever push for same-sex marriage.
On Thursday (14 February) they will join 12 other couples in filing lawsuits against the government.
The couples will argue the government’s position on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
What’s more, there is no nationwide legislation to protect LGBTI people from discrimination based on their sexuality or gender identity.
‘We want our status to be recognized by officials in Japan, that we are married’ Nakajima told Gay Star News.
Lawyer for the group, Takeharu Kato, said ‘marriage is a fundamental right under the constitution’.
Marriage For All Japan will also begin crowdfunding and launch a public awareness campaign.
They are targeting politicians and business leaders to promote the cause. There is also a change.org petition.
Why we’re suing
Nakajima and Baumann met in 2011. They married in Germany last year.
Nakajima said they were lucky that both their families accepted them. Baumann has even attended family weddings with Nakajima as her partner.
A recent survey showed less than half of LGBTI Japanese were out at work. Nakajima works at a big Japanese company where she is able to be open about her relationship.
But, current Japanese law excludes Baumann, who is German, from a spousal visa.
‘The visa issue is very critical’ said Nakajima. ‘I have heard of so many couples leaving Japan because visas are not issued to same-sex partners’.
‘All we want is the same legal rights as any other straight couples who are married’ Nakajima explained.
Nakajima also said it was the right time for Japan to follow other countries and stand up for LGBTI rights.
‘Japan needs to do to recognize LGBTI people as part of society. It cannot ignore them anymore’.
‘I hope the court will make a strong statement to the government on same-sex marriage’.
What we expect
Kato previously told Gay Star News that the cases could take at least five years to progress through the district, high and Supreme courts.
Nakajima said she hopes to see change even if it takes 10 years.
Her and Baumann did not take the decision to enter the high-profile campaign lightly. ‘My partner and me. we talked it through so many times before finally figuring out we will go for it’.
‘I know there will be pros and cons when we come forward to be in the media’.
Currently, the discussion of same-sex marriage in society is not active.
The lawyer Kato warned of a conservative backlash when the cases got public.
‘There will be some people who may say bad things’ Nakajima acknowledged. ‘But’, she said ‘we need to initiate this discussion’.
‘Can Japan recognize LGBTI diversity?’ She asked.