Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward has been creating headlines around the world since the district first announced that it would begin issuing Japan’s first same-sex partnership certificates in the fall. Fast forward to this month, and both Shibuya and neighboring Setagaya Ward today issued their very first certificates!

On Thursday, November 5, Hiroko Masuhara (37) and Koyuki Higashi (30) became the recipients of Japan’s very first same-sex partnership certificates, which were issued by the city hall in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. Bordering Setagaya Ward began issuing them on Thursday as well.

While the partnership certificates do not provide legal recognition of same-sex unions, they are undeniably an exciting step towards equality for the LGBT community in Japan.

Same-sex marriage in the eyes of the law may still be far off, but at the very least the certificates will now allow couples such as Masuhara and Higashi to rent their own apartment, have family-only hospital visitation rights, and gain a variety of other benefits that were previously denied to them as a couple. In addition, Shibuya Ward has also said that it “will publicly disclose the names of businesses that deny service to gay couples.”

Congratulations to all the happy couples in Tokyo who are going to pick up their partnership certificates!

Source: Reuters, Asahi Shimbun
Image: Wikipedia/DeepSkyBlue