Eight couples in Tokyo's Shibuya and Setagaya wards were on Thursday issued with certificates recognizing their same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriage on the first day of the long-awaited policy change.

As local leaders heralded the milestone, advocates hope it will trigger further discussion about revising nationwide laws.

Although the papers are not legally binding, hospitals and businesses such as real estate firms are requested to treat certificate holders in the same way as married couples.