In this new era, there is a growing amount of acceptance and understanding towards same-sex relationships. Western countries, while still facing opposition from some, are generally more open-minded in this matter. In June 2015, same-sex marriage was legalized in all the 50 states of America. Japan is a pretty open-minded country in regards to certain aspects of LGBT issues, and therefore, some cities have already acknowledged same-sex marriage.
To date, there are 4 cities in Japan which provide partnership certificates which recognize same-sex couples as married couples. The 4 cities are Shibuya and Setagaya in Tokyo, Iga in Mie Prefecture, and the most recent city, Takarazuka in Hyogo Prefecture which began to issue partnership certificates to recognize same-sex partnerships starting from the 1st of June, 2016.
It is no mystery why Takarazuka is one of the earliest cities in Japan to acknowledge same-sex partnerships. The city is famed for its all-female musical theater troupe, Takarazuka Revue. Women play all of the roles in their musical productions, including male characters. Love is a pretty frequent theme in the performances of Takarazuka Revue. Therefore, it can be said that their performances have lesbian overtones. In addition to that, the majority of Takarazuka Revue’s fans are females, and it is not uncommon for the fans to have a crush on the performers.
The partnership certificates offered by Takarazuka municipal government will be available to same-sex couples who are aged 20 and above. In addition, there are plans to make changes to the ordinance so that same-sex couples will be able to live together in apartment buildings. Currently, this is only allowed for family members. Other than housing issues, people in same-sex relationships also have trouble visiting their partners in the hospital as they are not legally considered family members.
It is expected that Naha in Okinawa Prefecture will follow in the footsteps of Takarazuka and will begin to issue similar certificates from July 2016 onwards. Therefore, the future seems bright for same-sex couples in Japan!