The Japan Times citing unnamed sources reported on Saturday that the Justice Ministry will issue key certificates necessary for Japanese citizens to marry foreign citizens overseas where same-sex marriage is legal.
According to the report, Japan has so far refused to issue the key document required for citizens to wed overseas if the applicant's intended spouse was of the same gender since Japan does not allow same-sex marriages at home.
Under the latest decision, the ministry will issue a new type of certificate that only state that the person is single and of legal age.
Taiga Ishikawa, of gay support group Peer Friends, was quoted as saying in the Times that currently Japanese gays were not able to marry even if their partner's country allowed same-sex marriage because the Justice Ministry would not issue the certificate.
"And without being married they were unable to obtain visas for their partners to live together," Ishikawa said.
While agreeing that the move is symbolic, a source Fridae spoke to however said that Japanese gays and lesbians have been able to marry overseas where same-sex marriage is legal with other legal documents even before the Justice Ministry's most recent decision.
The report did not mention if civil unions will be included under the new laws. Civil unions between same-sex couples are recognised in sixteen countries while same-sex marriage are recognised in six: the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, and Norway. In the United States, same-sex couples can marry in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but their unions are not recognised nationally.