On February 8th, the Fukuoka City announced that it would begin recognizing same-sex partnerships from April,2018.
The city is to recognize same-sex partnerships in the same way as Tokyo’s Setagaya ward. The city is to start accepting written oaths of partnership and issue special certificates. Anyone unmarried and aged 20 or older who lives in the city can apply for it.
The city is planning to make guidelines for same-sex partnerships and start accepting applications from April 1st. In addition to the guidelines, opening consulting centers regarding same-sex partnership is under consideration.
The partnership certificates are not legally binding, however, a lot more companies such as insurance companies or banks have started accepting same-sex partnership certificates as equivalent to married for the past few years. Some hospitals also allow same-sex partners to have a say on the medical treatment of their partners. It is getting more and more useful.
The idea of recognizing same-sex partnerships has spread all over Japan since Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards announced their first official recognition. The Fukuoka City will be the 7th city in Japan that officially recognizes same-sex partnerships. (Other cities are Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo, Iga City, Takarazuka City, Naha city and Sapporo city.) The Fukuoka City is known as the biggest city in Kyushu area and the population is very big, too. Now that there are approximately five million people who can take advantage of same-sex partnership in Japan, the impact the city will make on other municipalities is expected to be huge.
In response to the voices from local activist groups asking for same-sex partnership, Soichiro Takashima, the mayor of Fukuoka City announced in the council that “we want our city to embrace diversity and will start thinking about measures including same-sex partnerships that can support sexual minority.”
The mayor attended the reception party of Kyushu Rainbow Pride 2017 and surprised the audience. That year, he changed the color of the city’s official flag to rainbow colors and added Kyushu Rainbow Pride Parade’s website links to show support to the local LGBT community.