Toshitake Kuwahara, Mayor of Shibuya
"Japan's Growing Debate on Same-Sex Marriage"
Monday, March 23, 2015, 15:00 - 16:00
Shibuya Ward Mayor Toshitake Kuwahara has stoked the flames of the debate on gay marriage in Japan.
Last month, his administration became the first local government in Japan to lay out plans to issue certificates recognizing same-sex couples as being in relationships "equivalent to marriage." Although not legally binding, the move is raising awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and public support is growing.
Tokyo's Setagaya Ward may follow, as may the city of Yokohama. At a national level, lawmakers this month held an inaugural meeting of a cross-party group advocating gay rights, with about 40 politicians attending.
Conservatives in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are less willing to back homosexual couples. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month cited the Constitution as a reason to give "extremely cautious consideration" to allowing gay marriage. LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki said changing the current family model may "affect the very foundation of our society's system and order."
Kuwahara, a graduate of Keio University, has been mayor of the district since 2003.