National

Ibaraki becomes Japan's first prefecture to recognize same-sex couples

JIJI

Ibaraki Prefecture has became the first prefecture to officially recognize same-sex couples in the same way it deals with married ones.

Under the system, LGBT couples who submit “partnership oaths” will be treated in a manner similar to that for a husband and wife, such as when they apply to move into prefecture-run housing.

According to the prefectural government, two couples submitted their oaths on Monday, the first day of the new system.

One was submitted by Yuri Namekawa, 32, an openly lesbian member of the Mito Municipal Assembly, and her partner, who is also in her 30s. They said they have been in a relationship for 2½ years and currently live together.

“I’ve felt a sense of responsibility, much like that of a married couple,” the assembly member from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan told a news conference after submitting her oath.

“I never thought I would be able to ‘tie the knot.’ I am happy that I was able to experience that feeling a little,” she said.

Namekawa expressed hope for an increase in opportunities for LGBT couples to be treated like a husband and wife by private entities.