Working with pro bono client, Tokyo-based non-profit Lawyers for LGBT and Allies Network (LLAN), Morrison & Foerster has assisted in the research and drafting of the Viewpoint recommending that the Government of Japan extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in Japan, published by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) on September 19, 2018. The Viewpoint has also been endorsed by the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ANZCCJ), the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan (BCCJ), the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ), and the Ireland Japan Chamber of Commerce (IJCC). This development marks the first affirmative public statement from the business community at large in Japan regarding the legal recognition of marriage equality in the country.
The Viewpoint argues that marriage equality in Japan will create greater international competitiveness in attracting and retaining talent, encourage a more diverse and productive workplace, and support a more diverse and inclusive community. These forward-looking reforms would improve company decision-making, productivity, and profitability, and positively impact Japan’s international reputation looking forward to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Viewpoint was announced by the ACCJ, and endorsed by the ANZCCJ, BCCJ, CCCJ, and IJCC during a press conference in Tokyo on September 19, 2018 and followed by LLAN’s Third Annual Equality Gala 2018.
Morrison & Foerster was one of the first law firms to expand benefits to include same-sex couples, and has been at the forefront of the fight for marriage equality around the world. Earlier this year, the firm was one of 16 law firms, along with 15 international financial institutions, that supported a landmark case concerning LGBTQ+ rights, QT v. Director of Immigration, which paves the way for greater LGBTQ+ equality in Hong Kong.
“As an international law firm with over 30 years of doing business in Japan, Morrison & Foerster is proud to have supported this Viewpoint. Diversity is fundamental to who we are as a firm,” said Singapore-based partner Daniel P. Levison, who is a member of Morrison & Foerster’s global Diversity Strategy Committee. “As members of the Japanese legal and business communities, we are aware that marriage equality is not only the right thing to do, but that it is of crucial importance to businesses operating in Japan competing in the global marketplace for talent.”
The MoFo pro bono effort was led by Mr. Levison and New York partner James E. Hough, with support from Tokyo associates Aramide Fields, Hanae Fujinami, Fumihiko Hori, and Tokyo senior of counsel Mariko Obana.