Tokyo will begin issuing applications for same-sex partnerships this October, the following month they will begin issuing them to couples.
Numerous municipalities throughout Japan have decided to recognize same-sex partnerships, currently over 200. This movement all originated in Tokyo, in Shibuya District in 2015. Now it will be expanded across the whole of Tokyo.
These partnerships help give additional benefits to same-sex couples. It allows them to co-sign rental agreements for housing. It likewise allows for visitation rights in healthcare institutions. For those in certain occupation, it may provide additional benefits for partners.
Unfortunately, this is not the equivalent of marriage for LGBTQ individuals. It still does not allow for these couples to receive government benefits, file taxes jointly, or a number of other entitlements that heterosexual couples enjoy.
Furthermore, there seems to be no enforcement mechanism, besides perhaps a stern warning, for those that violate the proposed benefits for these couples. This means that those opposed to LGBTQ individuals may be free to openly discriminate against them without fear of reprisal.
Many in the LGBTQ community have been critical of the slow pace of change and the, necessary but, insufficient changes. Some also pointed out that obtaining these documents can also be cost prohibitive for same-sex couples, sometimes costing thousands of yen to obtain all the notarized documents.
Still others, even if they are frustrated, are hopeful that this is a sign of bigger, more meaningful changes to come. Currently, Taiwan is the only country in Asia to have legalized same-sex marriage, though even theirs is not without its flaws (namely issues with cross-national marriages).