Panasonic Extends Benefits To
Same-Sex Couples In Japan
Panasonic will start recognizing its employees’ same-sex partnerships from April, a move that puts it ahead of Japan’s government. Japan has almost no official recognition for same-sex marriage. This week a small city in Mie prefecture became the third region in the country to start granting certificates after two wards in Tokyo did the same last year, aiming to help LGBT residents with issues like hospital visitation and apartment leasing. The certificates don’t grant any legal status for the rest of the country. Mainichi Japan reports that Panasonic Corp. is poised to amend its in-house employee rules in April to recognize same-sex couples as having a relationship equivalent to marriage, and will clarify its behavioral guidelines to state that discrimination must not be practiced against employees who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender).
The ruling was driven by the fact that the company is a primary sponsor of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Charter calls for the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The move is a progressive one among domestic companies, and it is possible that other firms will follow suit by implementing similar policies.
Other companies are implementing similar initiatives, including IBM Japan, where employees who declare that they have same-sex partners are provided with cash wedding gifts and relocation travel expenses.
At Renown Inc., meanwhile, employees who submit same-sex partner certificates from their local municipalities are eligible to receive benefits including time off after getting married.
“We can now expect to see a ripple effect among numerous additional Japanese companies,” notes Ayumu Yasutomi, a professor of social ecology with the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia who is knowledgeable about LGBT-related issues.
Rights for LGBT individuals are beginning to take hold in society, with recent moves in this regard including the partnership certificates that Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward began to issue in November 2015 recognizing same-sex relationships as being equivalent to (legalized heterosexual) marriage.
Read more at Mainichi Japan