Rakuten to recognize same-sex partners as spouses and offer married employee benefits to same-sex couples. Five initiatives aimed at LGBT customers such as Rakuten Wedding are being implemented.

Rakuten Inc, a famous online shopping mall and shopping-website operator with one hundred million customers, announced that it will expand the definition of “spouse” to same-sex partners at the board meeting on July 22nd. Under the new rule, same-sex partners of employees are eligible for the same benefits as married couples including condolence leave and consolation payments. Submission of documents with their signatures is required for the recognition, Rakuten Inc has more than 13,000 employees including non-Japanese employees. Rakuten Inc has worked on establishing in-house systems that promotes acceptance and understanding of people from different social backgrounds. Last June, LGBT
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Naha City is to become the 5th municipality that officially recognizes same-sex couples and issues same-sex partnership certificates. PinkDot Okinawa is to hold a wedding for a local gay couple.

On July 8th, Naha City, well known for its active role in LGBT rights movements and its declaration of support for LGBT community called “Naha Rainbow Declaration,” started issuing same-sex partnership certificates that recognize same-sex couples as equivalent to “married.” Naha City is the first city in Okinawa and the 5th local municipality in Japan that has the same-sex partnership system. Okinawa is the first local municipality that has both a same-sex partnership system and an official declaration of support for LGBT. According to the mayor of Naha City, Mikiko Shiroma, the same-sex partnership certificate is given to a couple
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Mie Prefectural Assembly unanimously passed a written opinion that asks for improvements of LGBT rights in Japan.

Mr. Inamori, an assemblyman of Mie Prefecture On June 30th, Toshinao Inamori, an assemblyman in Mie Prefecture submitted a written opinion that asks for abolition of discriminatory treatments against sexual minorities and improvements of LGBT rights in Japan. Mie Prefectural Assembly passed the written opinion unanimously. Mie Prefectural Assembly is now petitioning the Japanese government for establishment of laws that would ban discriminatory treatments against LGBT people in Japan. Mie Prefecture became the 4th local municipality that officially recognizes same-sex couples this year and the written opinion is to prevent those same-sex couples from getting discriminated when they start to
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“Pride Equality Index” is to be introduced to businesses in Japan.

A scene of wwP2015 seminar Work With Pride (wwP), a private organization that aims at promoting better diversity management of LGBT individuals in businesses, is to introduce “Pride Equality Index” an equality index for LGBT individuals in Japan. The equality index will be the first index that supports and promotes LGBT individuals in Japan. Work With Pride is going to hear from businesses their measures and actions for “Pride Equality Index” from July 1st to September 16th and present the summary report in Work With Pride 2016 Seminar held at Dai-ichi Seimei Hall in Harumi, Tokyo on October 26th. Work
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A memorial service in 2chome for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando.

Two days after the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida, a memorial service for the victims was held in 2chome on the night of June 14th. The memorial service, held by Rainbow Protesters, began at the intersection located in 2chome at 8p.m. Many gay couples and people on the way home from work, holding rainbow flags and message boards that say “NO HATE,” gathered at the intersection and prayed for the victims. At first, there were about 50 people in the memorial service, but more and more people came to the ceremony and the intersection was filled with about 100
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HAKUHODO released a new survey on sexual minorities that says 8 percent of the population in Japan are sexual minorities.

HAKUHODO LGBT Total Research Institute released a new survey on sexual minorities, known as LGBT, living in Japan on June 1st. The survey concluded that 8 percent of the Japanese population are sexual minorities. The survey was conducted among 89,366 Japanese citizens in the age range of 20-59. In that survey, 5.9 percent of the respondents identified as LGBT and 2.1 percent identified as other categories of sexual minorities such as asexual. 8 percent of the respondents identified as sexual minorities in total. Another survey about general public’s views and behaviors was conducted among approximately 1000 people from the 89,366
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Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture has become 4th municipality that issues same-sex partnership certificates in Japan.

On June 1st, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture, started issuing same-sex partnership certificates that officially recognize same-sex couples. The city became the 4th municipality after Shibuya and Setagaya Ward in Tokyo, and Iga City in Mie Prefecture started issuing similar official certificates to same-sex couples. It is the first city in Hyogo Prefecture that recognizes same-sex couples and another city in Hyogo Prefecture, Mita City is now considering adopting the same partnership system. Takarazuka City now issues same-sex partnership certificates and allows any same-sex couple, who lives in the city, or is going to move to the city, to receive the
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Japan Transocean Air announces support for LGBT community in Okinawa.

Japan Transocean Air (JTA) announces support for LGBT community by allowing LGBT people to share their miles and inherit mileage from one another. Japan Airlines (JAL) announced to recognize same-sex partners as a family member, allowing them to share their miles this last February. JTA is an affiliated company of JAL. “We decided to take a supportive stand for LGBT community so that we can create a system that accepts and respects diversity in society. We have allowed same-sex partners to share their miles since last February, like other straight couples and families do.” JAL and JTA announced, according to
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Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2016 successfully sets a new record with 70,500 participants.

On April 30th, the opening reception of Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2016 was held at a cafe in Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories. People gathered to celebrate and kick off Tokyo Rainbow Week. Tokyo Rainbow Week was held from April 30 to May 8th. Chiyo Abe, a famous commentator from Fuji Television Network, who was dressed in a GAP-sponsored T-shirt came to facilitate the reception. “LGBT- unfriendly Tokyo is so lame!” Her enthusiastic speech on LGBT measures in Tokyo left a strong impression as an ally on everyone in the reception. Shinya Yamagata, a co-representative of Tokyo Rainbow Pride, declared open
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Ken Maeda, an openly gay television talent, and Masako Togawa, a Japanese Chanson singer passed away.

Right: Ken Marda, Left: Masako Togawa On April 26th, the entire LGBT community in Japan grieved at the sad news that two openly out television talents passed away. One of the two is Ken Maeda, an openly gay television talent, who became very famous for his funny mimicry of Aya Matsuura, a popular Japanese idol in 2004. Ken Maeda appeared in a variety of comedy shows and released his own songs and novels. They all became smash hits. He also played an active part as an actor and a movie director. In 2005, he openly came out in his book
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