Global employer, Rakuten, now provides same-sex couples and family with spousal benefits


A Japanese e-commerce organisation, Rakuten, has cultivated diversity by making their benefits available to employees’ spouses to same-sex partners. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Japan and as a result, Rakuten had only recognised official marriage certificates – which were only male and female.

However, Rakuten has now embraced a change for the LGBTQ community so couples of the same sex can still receive these benefits. The benefits include congratulations leave and condolence leave which includes consolation payments.

Additional benefits by Rakuten also include Viber chat stickers in support of the LGBTQ communities, permitting same-sex couples to join the ‘family plan’ and putting same-sex partners on the Rakuten Life Insurance plan.  

Akio Sugihara, chief people officer and managing executive officer at Rakuten, said: “We recognise that, especially in Japan where there is a lack of legal protections, LGBT people often feel as if they have to hide who they are in order to succeed professionally. Updating our employment policies is one way for us to demonstrate our commitment and support to our LGBT colleagues and their partners in an official, corporate capacity.

“The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive within and people are excited to see Rakuten moving forward so quickly. Of course, we want to do more, but the overall consensus is that this is a very positive first step, and we hope to see it influence other Japanese to also take concrete steps by offering inclusive employment policies.”

According to e27, Japan is relatively progressive on the issue of LGBTQ rights. Those in same-sex relationships are still dealing with abuse and violence in the country. Rakuten, as a global company, has a significant number of non-Japanese employees, thus this policy has been designed because of a prompted request by the internal Diversity and Inclusion group within the organisation.

Sugihara added in a statement: “Rakuten brings together people from many different backgrounds and we are very proud to support and provide a diverse and inclusive workplace with services and benefits that recognize same-sex partners.”

The change was approved in July 2016 by Rakuten’s board of directors and came into effect in August 2016.

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