The city of Yokohama near Tokyo began issuing certificates recognizing the partnerships of sexual minority and common-law couples on Monday.
Yokohama is the third city in Japan to implement a system of recognition for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, as well as common-law couples, according to the city. It will also provide translated certificates for eligible foreigners who require them.
To receive the official certificate, applicant couples must both be at least 20 years old and residents of the city. If one member of the couple lives in the city and the other plans to move there, then they are also eligible.
Yokohama joins the cities of Chiba and Kanagawa Prefecture's Yokosuka in recognizing common-law marriages.
"We feel like we've gained immense backing now that we're being accepted in the city we live in," said a woman in a same-sex partnership, who, along with her partner, was the first to register in the city. "We would like these kinds of developments to become more common."
Yokohama is planning on allowing those registered in the newly accepted relationships to apply for public housing as a couple. It also plans to work with private-sector medical facilities and real estate agencies on extending the certificate's benefits.
The introduction of the system follows a series of decisions by other Japanese municipalities, including the Tokyo wards of Shibuya and Setagaya, and the cities of Sapporo, Fukuoka and Osaka, to recognize LGBT partnerships.