Tokyo’s metropolitan assembly passed a bill Wednesday to introduce a same-sex partnership system throughout the capital, expanding recognition of the LGBTQ community in the only Group of Seven nation that doesn’t afford them the right to get married or enter civil unions.
From mid-October, couples will be able to apply online for certificates to prove their partnership status, as long as either partner lives, works or studies in the capital. While Tokyo isn’t Japan’s first local government to introduce such a framework — a handful of prefectures including Osaka and more than 100 municipalities already have one — it’s by far the largest, accounting for more than a tenth of the country’s population of 125 million.
Among the G7 nations, the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and the U.K. have legalized same-sex marriage, while Italy recognizes civil unions. The Japanese public largely supports marriage equality, with 65% in favor in a March 2021 poll by the Asahi newspaper, but the long-ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party has made little progress on the issue.