Japan’s immigration bureau has granted long-term residency to a transgender person based on her 17 year relationship with a Japanese citizen, in the first decision of its kind.

The unnamed woman had been living illegally in Japan for 26 years, and is now 58.


She turned herself in to the immigration bureau in 2017 after attempting to have a partnership agreement with her spouse drawn up.

Japan does not formally recognise unmarried relationships but in this case authorities granted residency based on the woman’s long term partnership.

“Had she been single, she would have not been awarded this visa. But the government considered the reality of her relation to her partner, rather than its legality on paper,” the woman’s lawyer Miho Kumazawa said, according to CNN.

Japan has allowed transgender people to change the gender on their official documents since 2002 but it requires them to undergo sex reassignment surgery and sterilisation before they qualify for that.

It appears that in this case the woman did not qualify, and so the law misgendered her so this recognition may also be a technical legal milestone for people in same-sex relationships in Japan.

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