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Metro Tokyo to allow same-sex couples to be foster parents

This file photo shows the Tokyo Rainbow Pride demonstration in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on May 6, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is set to permit same-sex couples to become foster parents.

A 2017 Mainichi Shimbun survey of 69 local governments which manage child consultation centers showed that only Metro Tokyo excluded same-sex couples from being foster parents. The new rule will be implemented on Oct. 1.

Foster parents take children who can't live with their parents due to abuse or other reasons into their homes for a fixed period. Using set standards, municipalities judge whether foster parent candidates have homes suitable for raising children. Metro Tokyo's present standards require an unmarried foster parent candidate to have child raising experience or qualifications as a nurse or child care worker, or similar expertise. Moreover, a candidate is required to live with an adult relative or common law partner. However, same-sex couples did not qualify under these standards.

The Child Welfare Act was amended in 2016 in line with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry's policy of promoting foster parenting. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government's latest move to allow same-sex couples to become foster parents stemmed from this amendment. As well as removing this barrier, Tokyo also dropped the child-rearing experience and expert qualification requirement for unmarried foster parent candidates. Singles will also now be allowed to become foster parents if they are deemed to have the ability to rear children.

A representative of the metropolitan government said, "There are many kinds of family. We want to increase choice to respond to the various needs of children."

(Japanese original by Miyuki Fujisawa, Medical Welfare News Department)

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