National government confirms legality of decision by administrators in Osaka.
Over the past few years, a gradually growing number of Japanese cities and communities have begun recognizing unions between same-sex partners. Certain companies have also started extending employee or customer family benefits to same-sex partners, and the country just elected an openly transgender biologically male politician to public office for the first time.
Now, in another sign of increasing acceptance of the LGBT community, it’s come to light that the city of Osaka has awarded foster care of a child to a same-sex male couple. While city administrators confirmed the couple’s foster parent status on April 5, the pair, consisting of one man in his 30s and another in his 40s, were approved as foster parents back in December of last year.
Foster parent certification falls under the jurisdiction of local authorities, but Japan’s central Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare says that it has no previous record of a same-sex couple being awarded foster parent status, so the decision by Osaka appears to be the first of its kind in Japan. The Ministry also confirmed that its guidelines regarding foster parent selection makes no specifications barring or giving preferential treatment to same-sex couples.
No information has been released regarding the child placed with the same-sex Osaka couple. While they apparently remain the only set of same-sex foster parents, their status takes on greater statistical significance when one takes into account that across Japan, there are only roughly 5,000 children currently living with foster parents (as opposed to in an orphanage or other government-run group home), and Osaka has just 119 foster parent homes within its city limits.