Japan Aims to Implement Same Sex Partnership Program Nationwide by 2024

Japan Aims to Implement Same Sex Partnership Program Nationwide by 2024
Image source: Andrew Leu via Unsplash (2018-04-20).


Vedran Muftic

East Asia Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Japan Aims to Implement Same Sex Partnership Program Nationwide by 2024


It was announced in December 2023 by mayor of Date, Hiroyuki Suda that the municipality is going to recognize sexual minority partnerships starting January this year. According to Fukushima prefectural officials, other municipal governments are preparing to follow the recommendations of Date, including the prefectural capital. With these policies in place, Fukushima will be the last prefecture in Japan to recognize same sex partnerships [1]. The nationwide recognition of same sex partnerships will mark an important milestone in the history of LGBTQ+ rights in Japan.    

Although attitudes towards LGBTQ+ among the public have slowly shifted towards acceptance in the last couple of years, Japan has still got a long way towards equality. Among the G7, Japan is the only country where same sex marriages remain illegal. According to a poll conducted by Sankei Shimbun, around 70% of the older more conservative readers support same-sex marriage. Among the younger people, the support for same-sex marriages is estimated to be around 90% [2]. However, it is not among the public that the active pushback of LGBTQ+ rights are found. The Japanese national government, primarily composed of older, male and conservative elites, has been slow to act on LGBTQ+ rights. Certain politicians have demonstrated hostility toward gay individuals, labeling them as "unproductive" to childbirth.

In June, Japan enacted a law that would promote the understanding of LGBTQ+ rights. Critics however called the law ‘watered down’ and claim that it does not actually give any protection. The initial draft of the law stipulated that discrimination of sexual orientation and gender identity should "not be tolerated", however this was changed to "there should be no unfair discrimination". A subtle but clear change which critics say may encourage some forms of discrimination since the implications of the exact wording means that the existence of ‘unfair discrimination’ implies that ‘fair discrimination’ exists and should be tolerated [3], [4].  

Even though 2024 will be a step in the right direction by nationwide same sex partnerships, the failure of the law that was passed this summer means that discriminatory practices are overlooked and still persist in Japan.      


[1] All 47 prefectures to have same-sex partnership systems in 2024 | The Asahi Shimbun Asia & Japan Watch. (n.d.). The Asahi Shimbun. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15075515

[2] Lee, M. Y. H., & Inuma, J. M. (2023, April 13). Japan is hostile for LGBTQ people, but attitudes are shifting. Slowly. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/04/12/japan-lgbt-rights-same-sex-marriage/

[3] Writer, S. (2023, June 16). Japan passes controversial LGBT law: 5 things to know. Nikkei Asia. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Gender/Japan-passes-controversial-LGBT-law-5-things-to-know

[4] Lies, E (2023, June 16) Japan enacts watered-down LGBT understanding law. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-parliament-passes-watered-down-lgbt-understanding-bill-2023-06-16/