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SOCIETY > Human Rights

5 foreign chambers of commerce in Japan call for marriage equality

  • September 19, 2018
  • , Kyodo News , 11:00 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — Five foreign chambers of commerce in Japan on Wednesday called on the Japanese government to legalize same-sex marriage.


The American, British, Canadian, Irish, and Australian and New Zealand chambers of commerce in Japan said in their joint viewpoint that marriage equality should strengthen the international competitiveness of businesses in Japan by allowing them to recruit talent from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities worldwide.


Although some municipalities are starting to recognize LGBT couples by issuing partnership certificates, legal marriage remains limited to a union of a man and a woman in Japan.


While Japan has been making efforts to eliminate discrimination against sexual minorities, a recent string of anti-LGBT comments by lawmakers has sparked public criticism.

A female lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party drew criticism by writing an article in July saying LGBT couples are “unproductive” because they don’t reproduce.


The article prompted LGBT people and their families to submit signatures to the LDP demanding an apology, and also sparked street protests.


The viewpoint said the lack of legalized equal marriage disadvantages companies in Japan as they are forced to take special measures to attract LGBT talent and face obstacles in offering benefits to LGBT couples such as housing and spousal health insurance.


“Opening marriage to LGBT couples would help to level the international playing field for companies in Japan,” the viewpoint said.


The viewpoint also said the legal recognition of marriage equality will provide more diversity and a productive workplace environment, while allowing LGBT employees to feel more comfortable and contribute their “full creative energy.”


“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the world, the inclusive Japan,” said Nancy Ngou, a treasurer of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, referring to an increasing number of foreign tourists to Japan, the upcoming Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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