News On Japan

A Same-Sex Couple's Story in Japan

Kumamoto, May 26 (News On Japan) - Living together for five years, this same-sex couple dreams of getting married. We followed their journey as they hope for a society where everyone can marry freely.

Takakura and Yuta, company employees living together in Kumamoto City, decided to spend their lives together. Their simple wish is to marry the person they love. They met 22 years ago in their late teens and started dating. Although they were separated due to school and work, they have been living together for the past five years and naturally started thinking about marriage. Takakura said, "We don't spend every day feeling special, but I feel like I can be myself the most now."

In 2020, they submitted a marriage registration, but it was rejected because Japan’s current legal system only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman. In 2015, the partnership system started in Shibuya and Setagaya wards in Tokyo, and now over 450 municipalities have adopted it. Takakura and Yuta are using the partnership system in Kumamoto City, which provides some recognition, but it does not have legal force, nor does it grant rights like inheritance or tax deductions similar to marriage.

Takakura shared their feelings in a local literary magazine about coming out to his boss about wanting to marry his same-sex partner. His boss praised him for standing up for his beliefs but didn’t fully understand the situation. Takakura reflected, "Just being able to say 'we are a family' is something that feels very distant right now."

The couple joined the so-called same-sex marriage lawsuit, and so far, there have been six judgments from five district courts. Sapporo and Nagoya ruled that it is unconstitutional not to recognize same-sex marriages, while Tokyo and Fukuoka deemed it unconstitutional but did not require legal changes. Osaka ruled it was constitutional, showing divided opinions. On March 14, in Japan’s first appellate court decision, the Sapporo High Court ruled that the constitution’s guarantee of freedom of marriage includes same-sex marriage, and not allowing it violates individuals' dignity.

The couple spends time at a local bookstore where Yuta worked part-time as a student, and the store owner, Hisako Tajiri, has supported them for a long time. She said, "They are like my children. Even though 22 years have passed, society hasn’t changed much, but I hope that one day they can get married like everyone else."

Takakura's mother also supports their relationship but requested not to show her face in interviews to avoid harassment. She believes that if society and the government recognized same-sex marriages, more people would feel supported and not ashamed.

In a world where same-sex marriage is legal in 37 countries and regions, Takakura and Yuta hope that one day, everyone in Japan can marry the person they love.

Source: 日テレNEWS

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