Japan is going through a tough news summer. One of the stories that flew under the radar in the US is that, on June 20, the Osaka District Court ruled that Japan’s current ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional, as they believed the Constitution’s “marriage” of liberty” only applies. heterosexual couples. What makes it particularly crushing is that a court located in Sapporo ruled opposite way in 2021.
As Amnesty International points out, Japan’s national government has yet to introduce any kind of legislation to ensure LGBTQIA rights. Progressive Americans know that feeling of “lack of federal intervention” all too well. However, a very prominent Japanese businessman stands out as an ally: Mario.
Last week, Nintendo Japan released an update to its Corporate Social Responsibility information, in which they highlighted a very big change: the introduction of a “partnership system.” You can read the full announcement on Nintendo’s website, but here are the highlights:
Although same-sex marriages are not currently recognized under Japanese law, the system ensures that employees in a domestic partnership with a same-sex partner have the same benefits as employees in opposite-sex marriages. We have also established that a common law marriage between couples will be celebrated in the same way as a legal marriage.
… In addition to introducing the Partnership System, we explicitly prohibit discriminatory remarks based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as in relation to harassment for disclosing a privately held sexual orientation against one’s will. Revised our internal rules.
Simultaneously with the introduction of the Partnership System in Japan, we informed our employees about the issue of gender diversity, with a message from our President as a means of raising awareness of what diversity means. . In this message, the President called on all employees to adopt a new understanding that even speeches and actions, which are not intended to cause harm, can cause significant emotional pain, to create an environment that is understood. And seeking support in which everyone can work comfortably.
By improving our company systems and conducting training, we will continue our work to create an environment where our many diverse employees can fully realize their talents.
One of the things I enjoy about it is the rare understanding from a corporate entity that your workershey They do their best work when they feel comfortable and safe—and a feeling that “comfortable and safe” means not only having equal rights, but protection from harassment, and that which may be designated as harassment, includes the disclosure of personal information. The boss coming in and telling every employee that they might have to reconsider some of the prejudices is rather nice.
What I get from this story is that the actual policy change behind this announcement was made in March 2021. He hadn’t really made a big deal about it until now—and perhaps it was the Osaka court ruling that sought to expose him. This, in my opinion, makes it worse.
This, of course, isn’t to say that Nintendo is an infallible human rights champion, but to be honest, I’m just relieved that the company supplying one of my favorite things is actually Good The side of this debate—and indeed within its own (mushroom) empire—is throwing real weight behind its stance.
Japan’s relationship with its LGBTQIA community
Meanwhile, as for the state of marriage equality in Japan as a whole: polling in recent years has shown that about 65% of the Japanese public support marriage equality, with 30% actively opposed. Like the US states in the past-Obergefels vs. Hodges In the US (goddamn, I hope no “post-Obergfels” is on the horizon), 11 Japanese prefectures will offer a “partnership certification system” that gives same-sex couples some limited rights until the end of 2022 . These include prefectures along with major cities such as Tokyo. In addition, a truly dizzying number of municipalities also offer certification to residents.
There is an absolutely phenomenal article on tofugu, courtesy of Cameron Lombardo, about LGBTQIA terminology in Japan, the country’s history with the LGBTQIA community, and what it’s like to be exposed. I highly recommend that you read it. But, suffice it to say, there is a huge difference between Japan and here—because in America, we associate anti-LGBTQIA sentiment with outright violence and outspoken hostility. While unfortunately some violence still occurs, Lombardo writes, “there is little open hostility towards gay people in Japan, which some say has been slow to progress.”
A large part of this is because, in pre-modern Japan, pansexuality was generalized: “Sexuality was understood to be something you Doingnothing you Huh(However, notes Lombardo, “while this was a time of sexual emancipation, that did not translate into gender equality.” That’s a sticky topic for another day.) This has translated this fact into the modern day. That “relative tolerance of gender non-conforming people means that there has been far less aggressive persecution of queer people in Japan.”
So, in one phrase, it’s too complicated. Hopefully, the Osaka Court ruling will appeal to any LGBTQIA ally… you know… do something, In the meantime, I’m sure Mario has taken action in his field.
(featured image: Nintendo)
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