Panasonic plans to change its company rules and recognize same-sex couples as equivalent to married.

0218panasonicOn February 28th, Panasonic announced that it is planning to change its company rules and recognize same-sex couples as equivalent to married. This change will extend its company benefits to same-sex couples.

Panasonic will amend its company rules in April and clearly show its willingness to treat its employees regardless of their sexual identity and orientation. This will affect approximately 250,000 employees working domestically and internationally.

Panasonic’s company rules say “It will respect basic human rights of its employees and any discriminatory treatment will not be tolerated.”
Panasonic will add to its rules “any discriminatory treatment regarding sexual identity and sexual orientation will not be tolerated.” By doing so, it aims to change its definition of marriage and spouses. After the change, company benefits will be extended to same-sex couples. Panasonic is now planning to hold seminars for its employees to achieve a better
understanding of LGBT people.

This change was triggered by one employee who was thinking about getting married to his or her partner last summer. This change was also supported by the fact that Setagaya and Shibuya wards now recognize same-sex couples and Panasonic has the biggest sponsorship of its 2020 Olympic Games, being held in Tokyo and the five emblems ban discrimination based on sexual identity and sexual orientation.

A cross-dressing professor in The University of Tokyo, Ayumu Yasutomi who is well known for his book “Arinomama no watashi”(Just The Way I Am), said that “I think this will have a large impact on many other Japanese companies,too.”

On major SNSs like twitter, there has been many supportive comments on the decision Panasonic made. “Unbelievable! Panasonic rocks!” “It’s really
fantastic.” “Too advanced for pure Japanese businesses.” “Panasonic is the real global enterprise.” “Japan is getting easier and easier to live!”

Even though Panasonic has not been known as LGBT-friengly, it is actually Panasonic that held “work with pride 2014,” a discussion forum where many companies discussed and sought for better solutions to LGBT diversity managements. A woman named Arikawa, who is in charge of Panasonic’s CSR, said that she decided to work for its LGBT diversity managements after she received many requests as anti-LGBT laws were enacted in Russia in 2013 and Russia was said to exclude LGBT players from Sochi Olympics.

Last year, LUSH JAPAN announced its “LGBT Support Declaration.” IBM Japan, Ltd. also announced its new system called “Same-sex Partners Registration” last January. Like Panasonic, all these companies extend their company benefits to same-sex couples and ban discrimination against LGBT people. (Microsoft Japan, Inforteria, RENOWN now recognize same-sex partners and extend their company benefits to them.)
Panasonic’s decision is very significant in the point that Panasonic, one of the pure Japanese companies, shows its great support for same-sex marriage and, unlike other companies that have already showed their support for LGBT people and created new systems like “Same-sex Partners Registration,” Panasonic decision treats heterosexuals and homosexuals equally and its new company rules change the definition of marriage. What Panasonic supports is marriage equality rather than only same-sex marriage. Like Professor Yasutomi said, I really hope this will have a large impact on other Japanese companies.