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Mie to be 1st pref. in Japan to issue receipts for notarized docs for LGBTQ couples

The Mie Prefectural Government building is seen in the prefectural capital of Tsu. (Mainichi/Hiroki Sameshima)

TSU -- Mie Prefecture, which aims to introduce a "partnership initiative" certifying LGBTQ and sexual minority couples as being in relationships equivalent to those of married couples, plans to issue certificates of receipt of notarized documents that authorize people's partners to manage their property and care for them if they apply.

    A draft outline of the plan by the Mie Prefectural Government came to light on March 11. According to the Mie government and other sources, municipalities including Tokyo's Shibuya, Minato and Nakano wards already issue such receipts, but Mie would be the first to do so on a prefectural level. Mie is aiming to introduce the scheme in September. An expert says Mie Prefecture's move is "a big step" toward the partnership initiative being introduced across the country.

    Under the draft outline, if certain requirements are met, such as one of the couple living or planning to reside in Mie, the couple can submit "partnership oath" papers, and receive certificates of receipt of oaths recognizing the two as lifelong partners from the prefectural government.

    Furthermore, if partners individually obtain a notarized document of property management and other matters and submit it together with an application form, they can receive receipts of notarized documents certifying their partnership.

    Sexual minority couples in Japan are at a disadvantage when it comes to inheritance of property and receiving insurance money as they are not legally considered families. However, this certificate can apparently make the process easier.

    Masayuki Tanamura, a professor of family law at Waseda University who is familiar with the partnership initiative, commented, "By issuing certificates of receipt of notarized documents, it guarantees the legal relationship between the couple is sincere, and increases options when recognizing their legal effect." However, he pointed out that receiving the notarized document itself is a challenge, and that the prefectural government "should make efforts to provide support, such as offering information, helping applicants prepare documents, and hold briefings by public notaries."

    (Japanese original by Ayaka Morita, Tsu Bureau)

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