• Japanese couple Koyuki Higashi (L) and Hiroko Masuhara (R) celebrate as hold up their same-sex marriage certificate. (Getty Images AsiaPac (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images))Source: Getty Images AsiaPac (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images)
Same-sex couples will be able to take a ‘partnership vow’ from April.
Michaela Morgan

6 Feb 2017 - 1:26 PM  UPDATED 22 Mar 2017 - 11:23 AM

The Japanese city of Sapporo has unveiled a draft of guidelines for recognising same-sex partnerships.

It would make Sapporo the largest city in Japan to officially recognise gay partnerships, joining smaller municipalities such as Iga, Okinawa Prefecture and Tokyo’s Shibiyua and Setagaya wards.

The advocacy group ‘Domestic Partnership in Sapporo’ campaigned throughout 2016 for marriage equality and presented the local government with a petition, urging Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto to recognise gay marriage.

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Under new laws, citizens of Sapporo aged 20 and over would be able to register in a same-sex partnership. The couple would have to be “sexual minorities who recognise each other as a life partner and promise to cooperate with each other economically, physically and mentally in their daily life.”

The certification would not give couples special legal rights but would allow them to become recipients of life insurance money, according to Japan Today.

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In 2014, Sapporo announced a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics and the Olympic charter bans discrimination against sexual orientation.

A man in Nagoya recently became the first Japanese person in a same-sex relationship to file for surviving family benefits after his partner died.

Sapporo plans to begin issuing the so-called 'partnership vows' from April.