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Panasonic to recognize same-sex partnerships in rare step for conservative Japan

Panasonic will start recognizing its employees' same-sex partnerships from April, a move that puts it ahead of Japan's government. The Mainichi Shimbun reports that the decision was made both in response to requests from within the company as well as Panasonic's status as a major Olympics sponsor; the 2020 Games are being held in Tokyo, and the Olympic Charter includes an anti-discrimination clause.

While the details and implications of recognizing same-sex partnerships are yet to be fully worked out, it should extend benefits like childcare leave and health insurance to more of the company's employees and partners. The move is unusual for such a major Japanese manufacturer, though the Mainichi cites IBM's Japanese arm as paying relocation expenses and a customary marriage bonus to same-sex couples.

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, however.