July 2023 | Supreme court rules toilet restrictions on transgender persons illegal
Japan’s Supreme Court on 11 July issued a landmark ruling against a government ministry saying it is unlawful to restrict transgender persons from using certain bathrooms in the workplace. The decision marks the first time a top court has made a ruling on bathroom usage by sexual minorities, with LGBTQIA+ activists hopeful that the ruling will set a positive precedent for other cases related to working conditions for transgender persons.
June 2023 | Controversial immigration bill passed by parliament
Parliament on 6 June passed a bill to amend the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, allowing the government to deport asylum seekers who apply for refugee status more than twice. The bill faced heavy criticism from opposition lawmakers, human rights experts, and civil society organizations, claiming that the new legislation enables the government to repatriate those who are at risk of persecution in their home countries. Critics note that the new bill creates unnecessary obstacles for asylum seekers in what are already considered to be stringent regulations for granting refugee status.
May 2023 | Pressure grows to end same-sex marriage ban
The Nagoya District Court ruled on 30 May that not allowing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, marking a significant step forward for LGBTQIA+ rights in Japan. This is the first time a court has ruled that Japan's denial of same-sex marriage violates multiple articles of the constitution. However, the court rejected the plaintiffs' demand for compensation. The latest ruling follows previous verdicts by the Sapporo, Osaka, and Tokyo district courts over recent years, which delivered conflicting opinions on the constitutionality of the ban. LGBTQIA+ rights groups remain hopeful that the series of court cases will help push the debate over whether Japan will act on same-sex marriage legalization in the future.
April 2023 | Health ministry approves nation’s first abortion pill
Japan’s Health Ministry on 28 April formally approved an abortion pill for the first time, providing women with an alternative to surgery. The approval marks a major step forward for reproductive rights in the country. However, challenges remain in accessing safe abortions, with debates revolving around cost and consent requirements. Abortions are not covered by public health insurance, and many hospitals still require a partner’s consent, which rights activists argue continues to deny women the right to bodily autonomy.