This Woman Channeled Her Pandemic Anxiety Into A Campaign For LGBTQ Rights In Tokyo.


In December 2021, Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, announced that a “partnership system” that publicly recognizes the relationships of same-sex couples would be adopted in the city during the 2022 fiscal year. Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Japan, so they will not have the same legal standing as opposite-sex marriages, but same-sex couples will be able to benefit from certain services and welfare programs that opposite-sex couples are eligible for under the local governments that adopt this system. Over 150 municipalities and prefectures across Japan have already adopted this system. Soyoka Yamamoto, as the president of an association that wanted to ask the Tokyo government for a partnership system, submitted the request to Koike, accumulated over 10,000 signatures, and submitted a petition to the Metropolitan Assembly. The content of the petition was later recognized by all members of the assembly. Yamamoto was motivated to push for this change primarily by the anxiety she experienced while living with her partner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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