Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward aims to begin issuing certificates recognizing same-sex partnerships by around the end of October, the ward’s new mayor said on Wednesday.
Speaking at his inaugural news conference, Ken Hasebe, who campaigned on a pro-diversity platform, said ever since he won the mayoral race on April 26, people had been asking him when the ward would begin implementing the change.
“There is a possibility it might get delayed,” the 43-year-old said. “But I have no intention to do this slowly. I know many people are looking forward to this.
“I wouldn’t say it will be a Christmas present, but at the latest, we want to somehow start it by the end of this year,” Hasebe added.
In March, Shibuya Ward Assembly became the first district in Japan to pass a legally nonbinding ordinance recognizing same-sex partnerships as “equivalent to marriage.”
Despite the landmark vote, Hasebe, who submitted the bill as a then-assembly member, admitted that there were still some challenges.
He said consultation windows to be set up for people who want to talk about LGBT issues needed to be prepared to deal with not only couples but troubled individuals, including children.
Shibuya Ward’s ordinance has sparked debate on LGBT issues nationwide, with other municipalities signaling they may make a similar move.
Hasebe said if other municipalities followed suit, Shibuya could also learn from them, which would help to better manage the ordinance.
In other policy areas, Hasebe flagged the redevelopment of an area near Shibuya Station, which he said will help improve the ward’s competitiveness internationally. The municipal office also hopes to work with businesses, especially information-technology firms, as the district is home to companies such as DeNA, CyberAgent, GMO and Line.
Hasebe grew up in Shibuya Ward and worked at ad agency Hakuhodo Inc. He also launched a nonprofit organization called green bird that organizes volunteer cleanup events in Japan and overseas.
Hasebe became a member of the Shibuya Ward Assembly in 2003 and was re-elected twice before running for mayor.
For the April mayoral election, former mayor Toshitake Kuwahara named Hasebe as his successor, and Hasebe fought the race without official support from any political parties.
It was a close race, with Hasebe winning out over his main rival, Democratic Party of Japan-backed Hajime Yabe, by about 2,500 votes. Hasebe received 25,326 votes
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