Even though Japan doesn’t have legalized same-sex marriage, the Japanese video game company Nintendo has announced that it will extend marriage benefits to employees who are in same-sex partnerships. The company also said it would revise its policies to forbid outing or harassing employees over their LGBTQ identities.
Nintendo — the creators behind such massively popular game titles as Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda — made the announcement in its annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report.
The CSR report noted, “We introduced the Partnership System in March 2021 as one initiative based on this philosophy. Although same-sex marriages are not currently recognized under Japanese law, this system ensures employees who are in a domestic partnership with a same-sex partner have the same benefits as employees in an opposite-sex marriage.”
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The CSR report added that the company would also recognize common-law marriages in the same way as legal marriages.
Additionally, the company’s report stated that it will revise its policies “regarding harassment to clearly prohibit discriminatory comments based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as disclosing someone’s privately held sexual orientation against their will.”
Fans of the video game company have praised its move — particularly in a socially conservative country — even though the company has only ever introduced one out gay character in any of its video games.
Right now, Japan doesn’t have national LGBTQ non-discrimination protections or same-sex marriage. A district court in Osaka recently ruled that the country’s same-sex marriage ban is constitutional. But as a result, LGBTQ people in Japan often face inequities in employment, housing, education, and health care.
More than 200 Japanese municipalities offer some form of recognition for same-sex couples. Such recognition can help same-sex couples rent apartments together, visit each other in city hospitals, and receive other services that married heterosexual couples enjoy.
LGBTQ advocacy groups have pushed for a national bill that would enshrine equal civil rights and non-discrimination protections into law. However, the conservative party of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida helped defeat the effort in the lead-up to last summer’s Olympic Games.