The Japanese Prime Minister has cast doubt on the possibility of altering the country’s Constitution to allow gay marriage.
Speaking to the two houses of the Japanese parliament, the National Diet, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said that the Constitution “does not envisage marriage between people of the same sex”. As a result, he argued, “extremely cautious consideration” would be required before any changes could be made.
The Prime Minister made the comments on Wednesday in response to a question from a member of the opposition. Tokyo politician Kota Matsuda wanted to know if recognising gay marriage would be a problem for the government. His query was prompted by news from Shibuya, a ward within Tokyo, where plans to issue ‘partnership certifications’ for same sex couples were recently announced. This move marks the first system of recognition for gay couples in Japan.
Mr Abe’s comments have sparked debate over the possibility of gay marriage being allowed in Japan. Mari Miura, a gender and politics professor at Tokyo’s Sophia University, said that the Japanese Constitution “does not rule out same-sex marriage”, so an argument could be made that allowing gay marriage would be acceptable without any amendments.
Masayuki Tanamura, a family law professor at Waseda University, agreed with Miura’s assessment. He said that when the Constitution was written, “there was no debate about same-sex marriage”.
He also cited Article 14, which states:
“All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin”.
Tanamura said the wording of this Article could allow gay marriage to be legalised without too many problems.
Photo of Shibuya, Tokyo by Guwashi999 via Flickr