The Justice Ministry of Japan has granted special permission to a gay Taiwanese man to stay in Japan with his partner.
The man, who is in his 40s, lived with his partner in Japan for 25 years. He illegally overstayed his visa. However, in a rare move by the government, his deportation order was revoked and a special residency status was granted, his lawyers said Friday (22 March).
The man was suing the government because he was denied special permission to reside in Japan. He has now withdrawn that suit.
According to Kyodo News, one of the lawyers said: ‘It’s the first time that special permission to stay in the country has been given to a foreign gay partner of a Japanese citizen.’
However, the Justice Ministry denies sexuality played a part in the decision: ‘We didn’t change our usual conduct. We didn’t give special weight to the fact that he was a same-sex partner but looked holistically at their situation, including their actual lives.’
No marriage equality
The defense team says the man originally entered the country on a one-year student visa in September 1992. He enrolled in a Japanese language school.
He re-entered the country on a three-month visa in October 1993. The next month he started his relationship with his partner, who is now in his 50s.
However, they were discovered in June 2016. His deportation was ordered, but the man filed a petition with the Tokyo District Court the next year to have the deportation revoked.
While some cities offer symbolic partnership certificates, Japan does not officially recognize same-sex relationships.
According to Japan Times, the man criticized the government for not recognizing same-sex partnerships: ‘Over the past 25 years, I had no other choice but to live with the person I love in hiding, as same-sex partnerships have not been accepted socially.
‘If we had been allowed to marry, our lives would have been different.’