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Panasonic Corp. says it will recognise same-sex marriages in its employment policies in a rare move for a major Japanese manufacturer.

The company said the new policy will come into effect in April.

Japan does not formally recognise same-sex marriages, and households with same-sex couples are ineligible for legal protections and employment benefits.

Tetsuya Senmatsu, human resources manager at Panasonic, said the company, with a global workforce of about 250,000 workers, will forge ahead with diversity efforts.

“Our basic thinking is that individuals must be respected and their uniqueness must be recognised and nurtured,” he said in a statement.

The Osaka-based maker of Viera TVs and Lumix digital cameras says it has been studying LGBT issues for more than a decade.

Policy changes by major and usually conservative companies such as Panasonic are likely to be influential in conformist Japan and may motivate other companies to follow suit.

The company also plans to place a nondiscrimination clause on sexual orientation in its employee code of conduct.

Shibuya and Setagaya, considered the wealthiest of Tokyo’s 23 wards, began issuing certificates to same-sex couples last November, a decision hailed as a major step forward for Japan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

While the certificates do not provide any legal recognition of same-sex unions, they allow couples to rent an apartment, visit each other in hospital and gain a variety of other benefits as a couple.


A human resources manager at Panasonic is acknowledging that the company’s decision to start recognizing same sex partnerships in its ranks has gotten some harshly negative responses.

Tetsuya Senmatsu told reporters Friday the decision has won both praise and criticism, depending on the country. He declined to specify the nations, although he said the policy was favorably received in the U.S. and Europe.

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