The Tokyo metropolitan government on Tuesday began accepting applications from sexual minorities to have their partnerships publicly recognized, ahead of the program's launch on Nov. 1.

Applications under the so-called Tokyo Partnership Oath System are in principle conducted online, including the issuance of certificates showing they have been received, to protect the privacy of applicants.

Japan does not legally recognize same-sex marriage, but couples who obtain a certificate under the system will be able to apply for municipal housing and be briefed on their partner's medical condition at municipal hospitals.

To apply, at least one partner must be a sexual minority and reside, work or attend school in Tokyo. The couple should both be legal adults. The system is not limited by nationality as long as the requirements are met.

"I had felt as if we were being shunned (by society), but we can live a life together, with society recognizing us husband and wife," said Soyoka Yamamoto, 37, at a press conference on Tuesday after submitting an application on a smartphone.

Applicants with a child will also have the option of including their child's name on their certificate.

Mamiko Moda, 42, who is raising a 10-month-old baby with her female partner, said, "I am happy that we were able to put the names of all the members of my family on the application."

Soyoka Yamamoto (center R) and Mamiko Moda (center L) attend a press conference in Tokyo on Oct. 11, 2022. (Kyodo)

"Now we will be able to use the certificate to prove our relationship as a family at hospitals during an emergency. That will give us peace of mind."

Nine prefectures have already introduced some form of partnership system in the country. They are Aomori, Akita, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Mie, Osaka, Fukuoka and Saga.

Japan was among the worst performing countries within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of the implementation of laws concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, according to a recent OECD report.

Related coverage:

Japan court rejects long-stay visa for U.S. man in same-sex marriage

Tokyo court recognizes trans woman as parent of girl born before transition

Japan court rules banning same-sex marriage not unconstitutional