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Sexual minorities seek recognition of same-sex partnerships from 23 municipal assemblies

TOKYO -- A citizen group of sexual minorities and others has begun requesting local assemblies to introduce a "partnership system" that officially recognizes same-sex couples. The group is making submissions of its requests to 23 municipal legislatures mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area where sessions begin in June.

The joint move by sexual minorities to have their rights guaranteed is said to be the first of its kind in Japan, and the group intends to make similar requests around the country.

Professor Ken Suzuki of Meiji University, the group's manager who is openly gay, told a news conference on June 4 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, "I hope that this movement becomes a wake-up call for municipalities and galvanizes the national government."

The latest action emerged out of the group's efforts online to organize the submission of the requests. When an application for a same-sex partnership system is filed with a local legislature, and it is passed by the assembly, the municipal government will be required to report to the legislature on its efforts to realize the system and the end result if requested by the assembly.

The partnership system started in Japan in 2015 when Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo introduced it. The number of local governments with the system will be eight when Nakano Ward in Tokyo joins in August of this year. The municipalities issue certificates and other items recognizing same-sex partnerships. Although the system is different from legally binding arrangements such as marriage, some municipalities and companies have begun to treat same-sex partnerships as such.

(Japanese original by Tatsuya Haga, City News Department)

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The 23 municipalities targeted for same-sex partnership requests.

Tokyo: Chuo, Bunkyo, Taito, Koto, Toshima, Kita, Arakawa, Nerima, Katsushika, Sumida, Chiyoda, Hachioji

Kanagawa: Yokohama, Kawasaki, Kamakura

Saitama: Saitama, Iruma, Sakado, Hanno, Kazo, Kawagoe, Moroyama

Hokkaido: Abashiri

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