Panasonic grappling with criticism over LGBT policy shift

Panasonic showroom in Tokyo. [Photo: Shizuo Kambayashi, AP]

Panasonic showroom in Tokyo. [Photo: Shizuo Kambayashi, AP]

TOKYO (AP) — Panasonic, the first major Japanese company to start recognizing same sex partnerships in its ranks, has gotten both praise and harshly negative responses to the new policy.

“I never felt this much how different a response can get by nation,” Tetsuya Senmatsu, a human resources manager, told reporters Friday, while declining to specify the nations where the change was poorly received.

The policy was welcomed in the U.S. and Europe, he said.

Panasonic Corp. has offices around the world, including the U.S., China, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The policy, which kicks off on April 1, recognizes same sex partnerships as the equivalent of marriage in Japan, where Panasonic Corp. is headquartered. Details of how the policy will be applied in each nation are still under consideration, he said.

Senmatsu said the main reason for the policy is that the company opposes all forms of discrimination. The possibility that it might be a plus for recruiting talent was not what drove the decision, he said.

The new policy could help when an employee in a same sex partnership gets moved to another city or nation on assignment, according to Senmatsu.

He said the company does not know how many employees might be affected by the new policy.

“In general, it’s said that might be 7 percent of the population,” he said.

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