Japan high courts rule same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

Sapporo Rainbow Pride

Several Japanese high courts have rules the country’s ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional.

Courts in both Tokyo and Sapporo have ruled that Japan’s current rules regarding same-sex marriage. According to Reuters, the high court in Sapporo explained their decision saying: “Enacting same-sex marriage does not seem to cause disadvantages or harmful effects”.

Public opinion has warmed to same-sex relationships in Japan with approximately 64% of Japanese citizens supporting same-sex marriage according to a Kyodo News survey. Only 25% of respondents said that they were not in favor.

In addition to the country’s increasing acceptance of same-sex marriages, Japanese businesses are concerned that a lack of support will create problems for Japanese industry and innovation in the wake of the country’s dwindling birth rate. At the time of writing, Japan is the only G7 nation that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, and business leaders fear that the government’s perceived hostility towards them will scare away talent from more progressive nations; especially as more talent ages out of the Japanese workforce.

“There is a growing risk that Japan will be left behind by international trends and excluded from being an option as a place to work,” according to Masakazu Yanagisawa of Goldman Sachs.

For the time being, a handful of municipalities issue “same-sex partnership certificates”, however these don’t offer the same legal benefits as marriage, or legal recognition outside of the certificate’s limited scope.

While legally Japan hasn’t been amiable to same-sex relationships, they’ve been popularized in pop culture for decades including infamous yuri couples like Haruka Tenou (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru Kaiou (Sailor Neptune) in Sailor Moon, or Suletta and Miorine from Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury.

This latest ruling is a departure from last year’s November ruling where a court upheld the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage, but ruled that a lack of legal parity and protections for same-sex families violated their human rights.



A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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