Japanese Woman Treated as “Stranger” by Town After Female Partner Dies

Japanese Woman Treated as “Stranger” by Town After Female Partner Dies

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Quick Translate - LGBTQ

HuffPost JP has the story of Kohayakawa Mari, who helped her female partner, Azumi Rina, run tack farm in Hatoyama, Saitama Prefecture. Mari says she never thought much about the rights conferred by marriage…until Rina died and the town suddenly treated her as a “stranger”.

Rina ran tack farm as an organic farm for 10 years. Mari met her in 2014. The two planned to hold a non-legally-binding marriage ceremony – but before that could happen, Rina collapsed due to heat stroke. She passed away soon after.

Mari kept working the farm for three years with the permission of the owner, Rina’s grandfather. In 2022, the farm’s land was zoned for industrial use. Realtors – and even the town’s mayor – urged the grandfather to sell. But he respected Mari’s wish to keep working the farm.

The mayor wasn’t having it. “Kohayakawa has no rights or qualifications for holding this land,” he said flatly. “You and your eldest son should decide.” Mari met with the mayor & asked him if she’d insist that Rina sell the property if she were alive. He said no.

In an interview with HuffPost, the town confirmed Mari’s account, stating they wouldn’t ask this of Rina because she was the owner’s granddaughter and had a right to the land. In other words, they treated Mari like her partnership with Rina never existed and didn’t matter.

The town is eyeing the extra tax revenue it can get off of this land. Rina’s grandfather remains intent on holding the land for Mari to honor Rina’s memory. But part of the land was leased and has been bought by realtors, which will greatly reduce the size of the farm.

Mari has started a petition drive to save the farm from rezoning and development. She says the entire incident has left her feeling the weak position that LGBTQ couples who don’t have the legal right to marry can find themselves in.

Link to Mari’s petition (Japanese)

(Originally posted to X)




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Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

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