Aegon Japan leads same-sex recognition

Japan, January 6, 2016

Aegon Sony Life Insurance Company (ASLIC) joins a first wave of insurers to recognize same-sex partnerships in Japan.

Two Japanese men on a sofa

Since January this year ASLIC accepts same-sex partnership certificates for life insurance recipients in the New Year. This announcement follows the recent issuing of the first ever same-sex partnership papers in Japan.

Legislators in the district of Shibuya issued the first partnership certificate to a same-sex couple on November 5, and Setagaya, also in the district of Tokyo, followed soon after. The city of Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture has said it will recognize same-sex civil partnerships next year.

ASLIC recognizes partnerships

Partnership certificates in Japan, however, only apply in the jurisdiction of issuing districts, and are not legally binding. Companies are therefore at liberty to acknowledge the unions or not. Currently, most life insurers in Japan still stipulate that beneficiaries must be close blood relatives or a legal spouse.

Commenting on ASLIC's decision to change its regulations, Akira Havermans, Assistant to ASLIC Chairman, said: "We're proud to be part of the growing recognition of equality in Japan and believe that all our policy holders, no matter what their sexuality, should be able to plan for a future free of financial anxiety."

Important first step

ASLIC joins four insurance companies who already accept same-sex partnerships and a further three who have said they will agree to change their regulations. Of a total 21 insurers, a majority are expected to follow the lead set by Sony Life and others.
The response of businesses such as ASLIC to same-sex policyholders is seen as a first step toward LGBT equality in a country widely regarded as being conservative on gay rights issues.

According to the Japan Institute of Life Insurance, 89% of households in Japan hold life insurance plans.