02:38 GMT11 July 2020
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    The Japanese Prime Minister raised doubts about the possibility of changing the country’s Constitution to permit gay marriage.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that changing the policy to allow gay marriage would involve “extremely cautious consideration,” as the Constitution “does not envisage marriage between people of the same sex,” he said as media reports.

    Supporters of the same-sex marriage celebrate outside the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki, Finland
    Abe was replying to opposition lawmaker Kota Matsuda, who said a change by Shibuya Ward, a district in Tokyo, toward recognizing same-sex partnerships gives hope to the estimated 5 percent of the population that is gay.

    Abe’s comments generated debate over the possibility of gay marriage being allowed in Japan.

    A professor of gender and politics in Tokyo, Mari Miura, said that the constitution does not exclude same-sex marriage, so an analysis can be made that it is constitutional.

    Miura further said that Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party don’t like the concept of same-sex marriage, but at the same time the issue is gaining momentum.

    While Japan is mostly tolerant of homosexuals, some gay people hide their sexuality. The Shibuya district plans to issue certificates that would afford relationships “equivalency to marriage,” though they wouldn’t have legal validity, according to Shigeru Saito, chief of the ward’s general affairs section.

    “The ward wants to use certificates so residents and businesses can understand and consider same-sex couples,” Saito said.

    According to Ishikawa, young people are very pro same-sex marriage, and he feels that this will give the issue momentum. It may encourage more people to come out, especially if any famous artists or athletes also come out.

    Consequently, Miura said that Japan is less homophobic than many Western cultures, and there are no religious or cultural obstacles to talking about the issue of same-sex marriage. Changes are occurring and same-sex marriage is now thinkable, but it still may be some time before it actually happens.


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