Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expressing his hesitation in legalizing same-sex marriage, saying that it would fundamentally change society and people's values.
When Chinami Nishimura, co-deputy president of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, argued for legalizing gay marriage at a Lower House Budget Committee session on February 1, Kishida replied: That's a topic we should consider very carefully. It is important to make a decision only after contemplating the mood of the whole of society because it is a topic that will change people's perception of family, values, and society. Critics claim that he is out of touch because society has moved on from the matter.
Takako Uesugi, a group of lawyers representing plaintiffs in Tokyo court cases seeking marriage equality, said Kishida's comments hurt the LGBT community.
Uesugi said that a comment that would cause ambiguous uneasiness is the same as approval of discrimination.
Jun Azumi, the chairman of the CDP's Diet Affairs Committee, told reporters on February 2 that public opinion on same-sex relationships held by society and the world have already changed. Same-sex partnerships have become accepted gradually throughout Japanese society, according to polling.
In 1997, 65 percent of respondents said they couldn't understand same-sex relationships, according to an Asahi Shimbun survey. In a 2021 Asahi Shimbun survey, the same percentage of respondents said same-sex marriage should be allowed. The issue is frequently appearing in courtrooms across Japan as gay couples continue to challenge the law.
In the Sapporo District Court ruled last year that laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but rulings out of Tokyo and Osaka upheld them as constitutional.
When the judiciary is demanding the Diet's response on this issue, Kishida s comment sends a baseless, negative message, Uesugi said. This comment is a totalitarian belief that goes against respect for individuals. It shows that the government hasn't considered the issue. Local governments have issued their own partnership certificates to same-sex couples, but they don't offer the same legal benefits of marriage because of the central government's dug its heels in the matter.
There are more than 250 local governments in Japan that have implemented these kinds of systems, covering about 60 percent of the Japanese population.