Unfortunately, same-sex marriage has not been legalized in Japan yet even though the number of countries legalizing the same-sex marriage has been increasing globally.

In the Constitution of Japan (日本国憲法 / NIHONKOKU KENPO), there is an article which refers to the marriage. It says;

第二十四条 婚姻は、両性の合意のみに基いて成立し、夫婦が同等の権利を有することを基本として、相互の協力により、維持されなければならない。Article 24. Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.

Some High Courts have judged the denial of the same-sex marriage is as “unconstitutional” then the government decided to grant a visa to same-sex couples since then, however, it would need to revise the Constitution and other laws such as the Civil Law and the Family Registration Law etc. to legalize the same-sex marriage in Japan and to treat the same-sex marriage in the Japanese administrative system totally lawfully.

Therefore, visa status based on civil status as “spouse (husband/wife)” is not be applicable to same-sex spouses.

However, there is a possibility to bring your same-sex spouse if both of your countries legalize same-sex marriage and you and your spouse registers marriage officially and lawfully in each of your countries.


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It is a pity that Same-sex Marriage has still not been legalized in Japan yet. Foreign same-sex spouse basically cannot apply for SPOUSE of JAPANESE NATIONAL visa status since the same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Japan.

Therefore, there is no other way to obtain FOR WORK visa status if you live would like to live together with a Japanese spouse under same-sex marriage for a long term.

There is a few case that the Japan Immigration Office has approved a visa status as Long-term Resident (定住者,Teiju-sha) by the Special Permission to Stay in Japan (在留特別許可). According to the decision of the Immigration Office, they granted him/her the visa status not based on the actual (same-sax) marriage to a Japanese national, but based on the comprehensive consideration of his/her situation spending 20 years or more in Japan. We should note that this doesn’t mean that the Japanese government allows the spouse a visa based on the same-sex marriage with a Japanese national.

So, it would be difficult to get approved if the period of stay in Japan is not long enough to convince the immigration office of your eligibility for LONG-TERM visa status in this case.

In case you are currently on FOR WORK type visa status, it is ok to marry to a Japanese national under law of your country even though you cannot register the marriage in Japan.

We hope the Japanese Government will officially legalize same-sex marriage to Japanese nationals and will open visa options to same-sex couples.

(Revised on December 1st, 2023)

Through a lawsuit of a same-sax spouse legitimately married to a Japanese national in the US, the Immigration Office has granted non-prescribed “Designated Activities (特定活動・告示外)” to the same-sex spouse in March, 2023.

Therefore, as the same as the case of same-sax marriage with non-Japanese, a same-sax spouse married to a Japanese national has a chance to obtain “Designated Activities” in case that the marriage is legitimated in the spouse’s country and the couple is able to prove their relationship as a married couple.


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The Japan Immigration Office grants non-Japanese same-sex couple a visa in case;

  • the couple is legally married and complete registration of the marriage (official process of marriage) in each country of nationality, and has been living together as a married couple.
  • one of the couple has been living in Japan under a FOR-WORK visa status (work-related visa) already.
  • the couple is financially stable enough to make living in Japan.

Basically, spouse of FOR WORK visa holder is applicable to DEPENDENT visa status in case of different-sex marriage. However, in case of a couple on the same-sex marriage, the same-sex spouse has to apply for visa status called DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION (告示外特定活動).

Application for DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION (告示外特定活動) have to be made while the applicant is staying in Japan. Furthermore, DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION (告示外特定活動) is not subject to the COE (Certificate of Eligibility) application, so he/she must come to Japan under 90-days Temporary Visitor visa first to apply for CHANGE of VISA STATUS from TEMPORARY VISITOR to DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES as EXCEPTION and must process it during the stay in Japan. For the application, his/her spouse holding a work-related visa should be the guarantor and supporter.

If you wish to apply for FOR WORK type visa to work in Japan and live together with your same-sex spouse in Japan; you must apply for COE first. After your COE is issued, you will enter Japan with the COE and your spouse comes to Japan together with you as TEMPORARY VISITOR with 90 days of period of stay. Then, your spouse applies for CHANGE of VISA STATUS from TEMPORARY VISITOR to DESIGNATED ACTIVITIES after you receive your RESIDENCE CARD and settle down somewhere in Japan. Of course, you can invite your spouse some months later after you start working and living in Japan.

For the application, it is important to certify legal marriage registered in each country of the same-sex couple as well as to explain background of marriage and actual married life. It would be highly possible to be denied if the period of marriage is short and/or the actual married life is not acknowledged. Necessary documents for the application would be different depending on the circumstances and/or nationality of the couple etc., we would highly recommend to apply for it through a professional.

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There are some issues you would like to consider even if you obtain Designated Activities visa as a same-sex couple.

Here’s some of them;

  • Basically, you are NOT allowed to work under the visa status. You need to obtain PERMISSION TO ENGAGE IN OTHER ACTIVITY (SHIKAKUGAI KATSUDO KYOKA / 資格外活動許可).
  • It is not possible to register yourself as a husband/wife on the Residence Register (as well as the Family Register in case your are a spouse of Japanese National) in Japan since the same-sex marriage is not legalized in Japan yet. Therefore, basically, you cannot join in your spouse’s social insurance (medical insurance and pension) as a “dependent spouse” of your spouse.
  • It would be difficult to apply for Permanent Residence status. We don’t say it is not possible, but we cannot ensure that you, as a same-sex spouse holding Designated Activities visa, have chance to get approved of Permanent Resident status in the future.

Therefore, it would be much better for you to consider obtaining work-related visa status if you would like to live in Japan with your spouse permanently in Japan in the future and you are able to be applicable to other work-related visa status.

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It would be better to consider other visa option and apply for a work-type visa (or any applicable visa such as student if you wish to go to the Japanese language school etc.) yourself to live and work in Japan since it would be more flexible for you to live in Japan – would be much easier for you to obtain PR status if you are applicable to HSP visa status.

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