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Same-Sex Marriage and Governance in Japan


Guy Baldwin, University of Cambridge

Japan is increasingly isolated among advanced economies in not having made provision for same-sex marriage or civil unions at the national level. The main political obstacle to legal recognition of same-sex couples is the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has been a governing party almost continuously since 1955. However, beginning with a move by Shibuya in 2015, many local governments have moved to certify same-sex partnerships. Moreover, cases are progressing through the courts seeking a finding that same-sex marriage is required under the 1947 Constitution through claims under the State Redress Act. So far, the results of these cases have been mixed, with the Sapporo District Court finding the current law unconstitutional and the Osaka District Court and Tokyo District Court finding it constitutional. Despite the significance of these developments, so far, they seem to have had little impact on governance at the national level.