An American man who married his same-sex Japanese partner in the United States sued the Japanese government on Thursday, demanding it grant him long-term resident status.
U.S. national Andrew High and his Japanese partner Kohei, who withheld his family name, reside together in Tokyo and are also seeking 11 million yen ($102,000) in damages in the suit filed with the Tokyo District Court, claiming the government's repeated denial of a long-term visa has impinged on the couple's freedom to live as a family.
Long-term resident status, granted by the justice minister in consideration of special circumstances, has a maximum designated term of five years.
(Tokyo District Court)
"It would be discriminatory if my two clients cannot live together in Japan, while a foreigner who marries a Japanese person of the opposite sex can acquire (long-term) resident status," the plaintiffs' lawyer Masako Suzuki said.
According to the suit, the couple have been together for around 15 years and married in 2015 following the legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court across all 50 states. In Japan, such unions are not legally recognized.
High has applied unsuccessfully for a Japanese long-term resident visa five times since 2018. He currently resides in Japan on a temporary visa and argues he could face deportation if the Japanese government refuses to renew it.
The Immigration Services Agency of Japan said it will respond appropriately after examining the details of the suit.
Earlier this year, a Taiwanese man became the first foreign gay partner of a Japanese citizen to be granted special resident status by the Justice Ministry, following the revocation of a deportation order for overstaying his visa.