Japan granted 93 foreigners permission to bring their same-sex spouse

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03/26/2021

At least 93 foreigners residing in Japan were granted permission to bring their same-sex spouses to the country under a special visa between 2013 and 2020, the first such government survey showed Friday. The spouse of the foreigner with residential status, both from countries where same-sex marriage is recognized, was permitted to stay in Japan under a “designated activities” status of residence, which is granted in consideration of individual circumstances, according to the Immigration Services Agency of Japan. With the institutionalization of same-sex marriage accelerating overseas since the 2000s, the Japanese government in October 2013 began to allow foreigners with residential status to bring their same-sex partner to Japan based on “humanitarian reasons.” In order to be eligible, the couple must both be nationals of countries where same-sex marriage is recognized. However, the same visa cannot be used to grant residence status to a partner of a Japanese national, an inconsistency which is likely to spark debate. Under the current system, a foreigner who marries a Japanese national of the opposite sex is eligible for a spousal visa, and foreigners who move to Japan can bring their opposite-sex husband or wife under a dependent family visa.

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