Love wins, one city office at a time.

Starting today, Takarazuka in Hyogo Prefecture, home of the cross-dressing all-female theater troupe Takarazuka Revue, has begun issuing official partnership certificates for same-sex couples. It is the fourth city in the nation to do so after Shibuya, Setagaya and Iga, Mie Prefecture.

Although the Japanese constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, the city has gotten around this by drafting its own partnership oath. Once a couple submits the document, they receive a certificate signed by the mayor and become eligible for public services for married couples.

When the decision was announced last year, Mayor Tomoko Nakagawa said that the job of local government was to create a society that all citizens felt comfortable in. He added, “This is a step forward to encourage the drive for recognizing same-sex marriages across Japan and ultimately push the Diet to start discussions on the issue.”

While Takurazaka does not compel private businesses to recognize the certificate as Shibuya does, several major companies, such as Panasonic and SoftBank, have already announced that they will do so.

In other good news, the city of Naha in Okinawa is expected to begin recognizing same-sex partnerships in July.

Source: Asahi Shimbun
Image: Wiki Commons