Sapporo, the biggest city in Hokkaido, northern Japan, has announced it will officially recognise same-sex partnerships from June this year, according to the Japan Times.
This makes it the largest city in Japan to do so, after the smaller districts of Shibuya and Setagaya in Tokyo legally recognised same-sex couples in 2015.
But this isn’t marriage equality, per se. Couples get the city’s “proof of partnership” so that they get some rights, such as visitation in hospitals, and discounts offered to families. People can also nominate their partners as recipients of life insurance policies, for instance.
However, this is up to whether corporations wish to comply, since it isn’t actual law — similar to Tokyo’s initiative.
The city government had initially planned to start recognising same-sex partnerships in April, but had decided to put it off until June so the public could be aware of it first, the Japan Times reported.
Still, it’s a step.
This week, Japan also became the first country in the world to elect a transgender man to public office.
Tomoya Hosoda won one of the seats for the city council of Iruma.
Hosoda is the second transgender politician to be elected in the country, after a transgender woman, Kamikawa Aya, was elected as a Tokyo city official in 2003.