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A total of 900 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender couples have been recognized by municipal and other governments in Japan since 2015, when the use of certificates to recognize such partnerships began growing, a survey showed Saturday.

The number of certified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples has been rapidly increasing. Certifications in fiscal 2019 ended March grew by 496, according to the Kyodo News survey, which covered two prefectural and 45 municipal governments that had introduced certification systems by April 1.

The result suggests public awareness of LGBT couples is growing but also shows that the benefits offered to them under the systems are limited. In Japan, same-sex marriages are not legally recognized and the certificates issued for them are not legally valid.

The certification systems started in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards in November 2015.

The city of Osaka has issued 187 certificates, the most of all governments surveyed. Setagaya came second with 117, followed by Sapporo with 88.

In many cases, the system provides certain benefits, such as allowing LGBT couples to apply for public housing. But limitations still exist, such as when seeking out important medical information on a partner who becomes ill. Hospitals normally provide such information to family members.

In addition, as most local governments do not recognize their certificates, LGBT couples need to go through new procedures when they move between cities.

To address the problem, some authorities have agreements to eliminate that requirement.

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