Tokyo: Tokyo`s largest district has said it will start issuing "partnership" certificates to same-sex couples from November, becoming the second in Japan to recognise such unions following a pioneering move by the capital`s bustling Shibuya ward.
While the certificates would not be legally binding, the Setagaya district council said it hoped they would encourage hospitals and landlords to ensure same-sex couples receive similar treatment to married people.
Applicants must sign a written oath stating their intentions as part of the application process.
The decision last week comes after next-door Shibuya district -- a business and shopping hub that is home to international firms and embassies -- passed an ordinance in March to start issuing the partnership certificates.
It was the first such recognition of same-sex unions in Japan.
Shibuya`s certificates are expected to be issued from October.
Setagaya ward is the largest of Tokyo`s 23 districts with a population of about 874,000 people, including a little over 6,000 foreigners.
The wards` certificates will carry only symbolic significance, since the Japanese constitution identifies marriage as a union based on mutual consent of the parties from "both sexes".
While Japan is largely tolerant of homosexuality, there is no specific legal protection for gay people, who complain that they may be prevented from visiting sick loved ones in hospitals or may be refused a tenancy because their relationship is not recognised.