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31 Mar 2009

Japan to allow its citizens same-sex marriage - with foreign partners

Japanese nationals wanting to marry their same-sex partners who are citizens of countries where such unions are legal may soon be able to do so.

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.

Under current laws, Japanese nationals, regardless of sexual orientation, who want to marry foreigners abroad must obtain certificates from the ministry by submitting documents that include their name, birth data, sex and nationality, and similar information about their marriage partner.

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.

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-03-31 19:35  
oh wow. time to look for a japanese boyfriend :p
2. 2009-03-31 20:38  
British citizens/nationals are able to register their union partners under the "Civil Partnership Act", beside Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, and Norway having full equality laws for gay couples!

Just wonder how conservative society like Japan would deal with this process to fully recognise gay marriage...? Even the US as a free and open society, the country has already in so much debates and hectics about gay union/marriage issues...
3. 2009-03-31 22:09  
what?oh!This is excellent, this really opens a new horizon for me.^^
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5. 2009-03-31 22:57  
That is really a wonderful news! Hmm... I think is time to look for Japanese bf for relationship? Haha... All by fate.... Congratulation to all Japan Gays' buddies. May God bless you all.
6. 2009-03-31 23:50  
Don't get too excited guys. Read the article properly. If you're from countries like China, Malaysia or any other countries where same sex marriage is not recognized, it'd just remain the status quo.
7. 2009-04-01 05:16  
Cat_boy, plse read the article...IN COUNTRIES WHERE SAME-SEX UNIONS IS RECOGNISED!!!
This exludes China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, ETC.....WHAT'S NEW ??? THE ARTICLE ALSO STIPULATES 16 COUNTRIES, OK ???
A certificate stating the person concerned is single/divorced/widower and legally of age (to 'marry', another quirk !) is sufficient in most countries recognising same-sex unions as they wish to prevent/avoid bigamy and potential international hassles.
Next step: will these 'overseas' unions be recognised under the laws of Japan ?
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11. 2009-04-01 07:05  
so a japanese marrying a white man is legal but a japanese who wants to marry another japanese is not because of symbolism, hmmm from the country that takes its time to drinking tea and the art of folding papers , is this another attempt to maintain their exoticism for the west or just trying to be on the edge with the rest of asia ? both r equally wrong , why not those who made this decision bend over for whatever their persuasion is and get it up theirs instead .....
12. 2009-04-01 09:19  
How much longer do we have to wait before we're all treated equally by the very governments that are supposed to serve us and our friends and families which are supposed to love and support us? All this rhetoric from all these countries which "believe" they are being "progressive" by throwing bones our way are just sickening. Articles like these reporting from countries like these, are insulting and feel like Chinese water torture...drip, drip, drip, drip, drip...I really wish we could get ourselves organized all over this globe; pool our disposable incomes, focus our brain power, our passions, abilities and talents, infiltrate governments at the highest levels, and level this playing field for once and for all. Heteros have gotten away with dominating, exploitiung, and oppressing us for way too long....now it's OUR turn.
13. 2009-04-01 18:28  
So the procedure is this:

1) Find a Japanese guy.
2) Migrate to Canada.
3) Marry him in Japan.

Not bad after all. At least this is a great improvement in which some countries will not see it in the next 1000 years.

Post #2 FoodloverHK, the issue is not how conservative a society is, but what type of conservativity you are talking about. If it is traditional east Asian conservativity, it is still fine, so long as it is NOT ABRAHAMIC conservativity. The latter will not compromise since there is the concept of 'eternity' and 'hell fire', making people stiff necked and will not bow down to any sort of social movement. If one state has turned Abrahamic, it WILL be ALL TOO LATE.
14. 2009-04-02 06:37  
An interesting position by the Japanese Government. Full of inconsistencies. Is it acceptable to have gay marriage or not? Why all the hurdles? I am amazed that they didn't add criteria such as..the partner must be white and have a net worth of greater than US$250,000.

I think chewing all that whale meat (for scientific research only mind you) has affected their ability to reason clearly.
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16. 2009-04-02 18:46  
Post #9 Crazy4Manz says (Posted : 01 April 2009 18:28) :
"So the procedure is this:
1) Find a Japanese guy.
2) Migrate to Canada.
3) Marry him in Japan."

No, I think the article is saying that:

1) the Japanese partner now gets a formal document that enables them to
2) marry their foreign partner in (say) Canada, and so then to
3) get a visa to live together in Japan.

It would be much simpler if they could just marry/CP in Japan.

17. 2009-04-02 19:26  
Post #11 steveuk,

If that is the case. then Japanese locals will 'play around the rule', such as a Japanese guy will migrate to (say) Canada, and his Japanese boyfriend will go to Canada to marry him, and then both of them will come back to Japan to get a visa to be recognized legally as couples in Japan.

So if I want to marry a Japanese, then first I must become a Canadian! :P But too bad, I don't know Japanese...
18. 2009-04-02 19:50  
Post #12 Crazy4Manz says (Posted : 02 April 2009 19:26) :
If that is the case. then Japanese locals will 'play around the rule', such as a Japanese guy will migrate to (say) Canada, and his Japanese boyfriend will go to Canada to marry him, and then both of them will come back to Japan to get a visa to be recognized legally as couples in Japan."

If they are both Japanese, they both already have the right to live together in Japan, no visa needed. I don't think the article is suggesting that there a recognition of the marriage for anything other than a foreigner getting a residential visa. If there is more than that, well that's great.
19. 2009-04-02 19:55  

Post #12 Crazy4Manz says" So if I want to marry a Japanese, then first I must become a Canadian! "

I'm not sure, but I think 2 non-Canadians can get married in Canada, without even residing there. I seem to remember a rush of people going there to get married when they introduced it some years back.

20. 2009-04-02 23:06  
http://www.toronto.ca/registry-services/marriage.htm says that to get a marriage certificate in Canada has no citizenship or residency requirement
21. 2009-04-03 04:43  
Hope other asia country will follow soon. anthony from spain.
22. 2009-04-03 12:07  
We had better read carefully. I think it says the Japanese Ministry will issue a document that states the single status of a Japanese citizen, so the Japanese citizen can provide that to another country for marriage in that other country.
It does not necessarily mean the Japanese will then recognize those marriages for example for the purpose of immigration rights for the same sex spouse to Japan.

I hope I am wrong but I think that is all it says.
Please correct me. I hope I am wrong.
23. 2009-04-03 12:10  
Hmmmm ???? What am I reading and understanding here ????

" Japan to allow its citizens same-sex marriage - with foreign partners. "

Why only with foreign partners ? Why can't Two Japnese who are in love get married and be recognised ? This is so strange and mind boggling .

There is more than meets the eye !!!!
I am going to share this with my Japanese friends in Osaka , Tokyo and Kyoto. They must be happy because they can now get married but sad because they must be foreigners ? what a joke ????
24. 2009-04-03 17:50  
Agree with matahari_gar. The law is very strange, & doesn't make much sense...you must be a foreigner from a country where same-sex marriage is legal to marry yr Japanese sweetheart?????
Or are they just trying to be practical, cause people from countries where gay marriage is not approved will declare the union void anyway...shrug. All I know is it will be so much trouble if I fell in love with a Japanese sweetheart...:p
25. 2009-04-04 10:35  
but will the married gay couples be entitled to the same rights as straight couples in japan?

it sounds to me as if the japanese government expects the gay couples to reside outside of japan.

26. 2009-04-04 19:48  
#17 is correct. The Japanese governement has no intention of recognizing the same-sex marriage at all. They are just saying that they will provide those Japanese citizens who wish to havea the same sex marriage overseas with whatever the documents they need from the Japanese government in order to marry overseas. That is all.
27. 2009-04-07 22:51  
very nice lo..
28. 2009-04-09 17:01  
it is not very nice...
it does not make sense to just make this kind of exceptions, when there is no discussion on legal status on same-sex relationship which apply to the nationals...

it is because the government does not want the world trend to affect in Japan. it is very normal things for Japanese governments to do from historic point of view.
29. 2009-04-13 08:13  
Hello readers,

Just one last comment from me on this.
It is absolutely clear that the Japanese government will not recognize the legal marriages of its citizens to same sex spouses as a result of the recent decision to which this article refers.
I would like to say that the Fridae headline for this article was very poorly written. It caused me for at least a day to think that my life would be profoundly affected. While it was a nice 24 hour fantasy come true, the crash of finding the real facts elsewhere was not worth it.
I would suggest the headline would have been better to say " Japan to take one small step from hostilely blocking the legal marriage of its citizens abroad"

I do understand though that the main source was originally "The Japan Times" which also had a misleading headline.
In addition, "The Japan Times" included blatantly incorrect information.
The following is a quote from that Japan Times article:

"To marry foreigners abroad, all Japanese nationals, regardless of sexual orientation, must obtain certificates from the ministry by submitting documents that include their name, birth data, sex and nationality, and similar information about their marriage partner."

This is not correct. My Japanese partner and I married here in Canada 5 years ago, and no such documents were required by the Canadian government. Perhaps some other countries which have same sex marriage require that.
Incidentally, at that time neither of us were residents of Canada. We have since immigrated here to enjoy a life in a country which will allow us to be together until death does us part.

It is sad that we can not return to Japan to care for my partner's elderly parents (He is an only child) because there is no way for me to have permanent residency in Japan.

It does occur to me that Japan (and many other countries) are in violation of international treaties which agree to recognize the legal marriages of each others countries.

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