Will An American’s Lawsuit Bring Gay Marriage To Japan?

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Another couple is fighting for marriage equality in Japan.

After Taiwan became the first country in Asian to legalize gay marriage, the question in the air is which country will go next. While Thailand is currently working on legalizing civil unions, the Philippines recently rejected the idea. In addition, China is also ignoring LGBTQ citizen’s requests for marriage equality. But what about Japan?


Recently elected politician Taiga Ishikawa, who’s openly gay, announced his desire to fight for marriage equality. But it seems that an American in Japan may try to take a few swings at it on his own.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, Andrew High currently has a temporary visitor status within Japan. This is despite the fact that High is in a committed relationship with his partner of more than a decade. The two met in 2004 while studying at a U.S. university. They then began living together a year later and moved to Japan in 2004 when High’s partner found work in his home country. Since then, High has been living on and off again in Japan due to visitation/immigration laws.

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Under Japanese law, a non-Japanese citizen in a straight marriage with a Japanese national is allowed spousal status. Unfortunately, the national Japanese government does not recognize same-sex marriages. While some providences and cities do have marriages or civil unions, these only give limited rights in their respective areas.


For the past decade, High has applied for different types of residence statuses. He once established a company in Japan to receive the Business Manager status, but after meeting financial problems that plan fell through. High then applied for long-term resident status, which is given to people with special circumstances. High applied five times and was rejected every time.

Now, High is suing the government to show that the immigration law is discriminatory towards sexual orientation.

“Since I have no idea when I will no longer be allowed to live in Japan, we cannot purchase the proper furniture,” High said. “I am always worried about what will happen one year from now.”

The lawsuit is ongoing, but perhaps it will help LGBTQ citizens in Japan and their fight for gay marriage in the country. Time will tell.

Sources: The Asahi Shimbun

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