We ask for your support in creating a society where everyone has the choice whether or not to marry. 
 

Hello. My name is Makiko Terahara. I am a lawyer of the Tokyo Bar Association, and the representative director of the “Marriage For All Japan Foundation - Freedom for All to Marry”.
 
We, a group consisting most of lawyers, have begun to work on our aim to create society where everyone can choose to marry regardless of orientation or gender. 
 

 

▶︎Thousands of messages of support are flooding in. Click here to read them all.

 

On February 14th, 2019, thirteen couples across Japan from Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo to Nagoya jointly filed a lawsuit against the nation. This lawsuit states that it is unconstitutional that same-sex couples cannot get legally married (in Japan). It has been named the “Freedom to Marry for All” lawsuit, and I am one of the members (more precisely the representative of the Tokyo lawyers) of the group of lawyers filing this lawsuit.
 
Currently, same-sex couples (two people who are legally of the same gender) are not allowed to get married in Japan. Marriage is an important institution that helps keep a loving couple’s daily life stable. However, just because the couple shares the same gender under the law, there are many who cannot get married. 
 
Globally 25 nations recognize same-sex marriages, and among the G7 (Group of Seven Industrialized Nations) only Japan offers no legal protection to partners of the same sex. In Asia, Taiwan has decreed that it was “unconstitutional to not allow same-sex couples to marry”, has decided that in May 2019 it will allow same-sex couples to marry. Thailand’s parliament voted to allow same-sex partnerships and it is drafting that in to law. 
 
According to a 2015 poll by a team of university researchers and the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Japan, over 50 percent of respondents were favorable to same-sex couples getting married. That rate jumped to 70 percent when respondents in their 20s and 30s were singled out, showing a growing acceptance rate amongst the general population.

 

 

Even when same-sex couples finally get the right to get married, for those whom these changes do not concern nothing will change in their lives. However for people wishing to see same-sex marriage come true this will be become a source not only of much happiness but also of strength and resources to help them through times of pain and difficulty. 
 

Some of the members of the foundation of Marriage For All Japan – Freedom for All to Marry, and some of the members of the legal team behind the Freedom for All to Marry lawsuit. 

 

This will be the first time in Japan that a lawsuit will challenge head on in court the constitutional basis of the ban on same-sex couples right to marry. 
 
In this historic first step, thirteen couples, including some who have lived together in Japan for over ten years, have risen up to the challenge and have entered as plaintiffs. The legal team is comprised of lawyers from around the nation active in the protection of the human rights for sexual minorities. 
 
If the courts provide a ruling agreeing that the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples is unconstitutional, then parliament can not stand idle and it will be forced to put together legislation that will give same-sex couples the choice of getting married. 

 


 

It usually takes years for lawsuits of this type to go through the district courts, high courts and then for a decision to be handed down by the Supreme Court. However we believe this case will also create a lot of public interest, raising awareness and understanding amongst the general public in a way that parliament may move to before the final court decision to legislate laws that will allow same-sex couples to get married, and that will bring about a marriage equality much faster.  
 
We need the understanding and interest of the whole of society in order to move the decision and courts in our favor and in order to push parliament to legislate for marriage equality and same-sex marriage. 
However the same-sex couple plaintiffs of the lawsuit and the legal team by alone will not be able to create this movement, and many more helping hands are going to be needed. 
That is why we have included in the「Marriage For All Japan Foundation - Freedom for all to Marry」lawsuit)a legal team along with professionals in public relations. 

 

This foundation has two missions: 

 

① Full support of the 「Freedom for all to Marry」lawsuit
② A wide range of campaign activities including hosting events, research and media relations in order gain the support and approval of society at large for the realization of same-sex marriage (Marriage equality) in Japan. 

 
To keep up these activities over such a long period of time, we will also need your help.  We thus ask that you help support us in our endeavor. 
 

 

When same-sex couples cannot marry

 

Today in Japan though same-sex couples cannot get married, it is not a crime to be homosexual nor are their restrictions in place against people of the same-sex loving each other. 
 
Thus some people may say “if they are free to love each other, why do they need to get married?”. 

Nevertheless, there are actually quite a lot of problems that arise because they can’t marry. 


 

Necessity :
Why the need for Same-Sex Marriage?

 

 

Case 1 
You cannot inherit! 
And you can be thrown out of your home 

If you are not married, unless you write out a will, no matter how long the couple has been together the widow or widower does not get a penny in inheritance.

 

Case 2 
You cannot get permits to live together with your loved one in Japan. 

If your partner is a foreign national, and if you are of the same sex -  even if you love each other – your partner will not be granted a residency permit to live in Japan with you. 

 

Case 3 
You will not be able to be beside your partner during  life or death decisions 

(In many hospitals and medical institutions) same-sex partners are not considered family so  you may not be able to see and be at the bedside of your partner during the moments they most need you.  
 
Case 4 
You will be considered a total stranger by law to the child or children your partner may be raising. 
Even if you live with the person who gave birth to the child or children, only one of you will be recognized as a legal guardian to them. 
 

 
For example、
 
1.    If your partner passes away, if you are not married and no testament has been left behind, no matter how long the couple has been together the surviving partner will be left with nothing in inheritance. 

2.    If your partner is a foreign national, they are allowed to live with you in Japan as a dependents only if you two are married and are of the opposite sex. However same-sex couples cannot get married, so unless your foreign partner has a student, working or other valid visa, you will not be able to live in Japan together. 


3.    If ever your partner fell ill and unconscious, if you were married you would be able to take care of them as a family member and sit in to hear what the doctors had to say. However, same sex couples are not recognized as legally part of the immediate family and can be denied access by hospitals, and may not allow you even into your sick partner’s hospital room. 

 

4.    If you or your partner gave birth to a child, the partner who did not give birth to the child will not be considered a parent and legal guardian, and deemed to be equivalent of a total stranger. This will be the source of all sorts of daily inconveniences for all involved. In extreme cases, if something unforeseen happens to the biological mother, there is a chance the other partner will be cut off from the child or children. 

The above are just a few of the many examples of the injustices same sex couples faces in their daily lives.
 

 

What this lawsuits seeks:

 

According Japanese court rules, you cannot call into question directly the constitutionality of a policy. The courts need to be presented detailed instances of violation of the rights of plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and if need be call in to question as to whether that is against the constitution. 
 
Therefore this lawsuit demands more precisely “that the state compensate same-sex couples for the mental and emotional damages incurred because parliament continues to fail to legislate law that would redress the current situation where it is not possible for same-sex couples to get married even though the current situation violates their constitutional rights.”
 
We are not asking for money - we are only asking for a judicial verdict clarifying that “it is unconstitutional to ban same-sex couples from getting married.”

 

The Legal Arguments: “Same-sex marriage and the Constitution”

 

 

The key to this lawsuit hinges on how the constitution views marriage between couples of the same-sex.
 
According to Article 24 (1) of the Japanese Constitution, phrase “of the mutual consent of both sexes” is often construed as between a man and woman and is interpreted to indicate a ban on same-sex couples marrying. However this provision only prescribes the mutual consent of the two individuals who want to get married and not the consent of the head of the household as was the case in older (pre-war) laws.  
 
Nowhere in the Constitution does it proscribe marriage between two people of the same-sex.  When the Constitution was written, no nation in the world allowed for same-sex marriages and people just couldn’t even imagine marriage between two people of the same-sex.  Therefore it is not possible to interpret Article 24 (1) of the Japanese Constitution as prohibiting the marriage between same-sex couples as there was no way they could ban something they could not even imagine happening at the time. 
 
On the other hand, Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution is famous as being explicit about “ All of the people shall be respected as individuals” and calls on the protection of  “pursuit of happiness”. Thus whether someone should get married or not, and if they do want to get married, with whom and when they get married should be a decision made freely by the individual. If that holds true then same-sex couples should also be protected under Article 24’s “Freedom to Marry”.  But as same-sex couples are not permitted to marry despite this, it is a violation of a same-sex couple’s “Freedom to Marry” and thus that would be in breach of Article 24 of the Japanese Constitution. 
 
Furthermore, Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution states “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination”. Therefore, it is in also in violation of Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution and discriminatory that different-sex couples are allowed to marry and receive the benefits of the institution of marriage, but the same is not permitted with same-sex couples. 
 
Prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying is thus unconstitutional. 

 

 

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