The third official contacted, however, suggested applying for a designated-activities visa, with the same-sex spouse to be listed as a dependent of their Japanese partner in the same way Mokrane and Montero are. Until , the U. And, just in case anything were to happen to Mokrane, he was also able to add Montero to his current rental contract when it was renewed in , something real estate agents will rarely do for nonfamily members. Yuki Keiser is a year-old Japanese citizen of Japanese-Swiss parentage, born and raised in Switzerland. The international media, too, has doggedly covered the story, often using it as a starting point before going on to examine the numerous obstacles the lesbian and gay communities still face in Japan.
At that point, he immediately began looking at ways for Montero to join him. Until , the U. We are considering changing this to a marriage, an option that only became possible in December In April, Japanese lesbian actresses Akane Sugimori and Ayaka Ichinose held a highly public — but strictly symbolic — wedding ceremony in front of news crews in Tokyo. After France legalized gay marriage in , Mokrane and Montero were wed, and they are now registered as a married couple with their local ward office in Tokyo. Initially turning to the Japanese Embassy in Paris, progress was confusing, with different officials offering different information. Yet, as easy as obtaining a visa was in Japan, neither man can return to the country of his birth with a same-sex dependent in tow. Mokrane, originally from Algeria, says he could be fined and potentially face years in jail for being in a same-sex relationship. And, just in case anything were to happen to Mokrane, he was also able to add Montero to his current rental contract when it was renewed in , something real estate agents will rarely do for nonfamily members. Keiser does, however sometimes think of Japan when considering her future and, when interviewed, she admitted to not being sure about the current state of play in Tokyo. So, the couple started a long-distance relationship. Other same-sex marriages have also been held in Tokyo Disneyland and even at a Kyoto shrine, all invalid according to Japanese law. Your comments and story ideas: True, for now it is not possible for gay couples to get legally married in Japan, nor to have a marriage registered abroad recognized as being on a par with those between heterosexual couples. Additional reporting by Tomohiro Osaki. Mokrane, the executive director of an international scientific program, has a working visa. In contrast, an Immigration Bureau official contacted by The Japan Times contradicted the information provided by all three immigration help-line staff, saying obtaining any visa based on a same-sex relationship with a Japanese national was impossible, as Japanese law does not recognize same-sex marriages involving Japanese partners. But are Japanese laws as rigid as some of these reports make out? Also, I have a great concern about my aging parents as I am not able to live there to support them at the moment. Immigration in Tokyo, on the other hand, was more honest about the ambiguities. At the local ward office, Mokrane surprised the staff by trying to register his same-sex spouse on his certificate of residency in the first place, but then he himself was surprised by the help he received: The international media, too, has doggedly covered the story, often using it as a starting point before going on to examine the numerous obstacles the lesbian and gay communities still face in Japan. The head of the section first offered to register them as a household of two residents, but then suggested they apply as a married couple, providing they had a translated document proving a ceremony had taken place. Montero was eventually given a designated-activities visa, with the accompanying certificate of residence status listing him as a dependent of Mokrane, in much the same way as many foreign spouses of heterosexual non-Japanese residents are. However, while things may be moving too slowly in the right direction to satisfy many Japanese same-sex couples, things are considerably better in Japan for those where both partners are not Japanese. Regardless of what would-be applicants are told over the phone, this is the official Japanese government line, confirmed Kosuke Oie, an immigration lawyer at the Tokyo Public Law Office.
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