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Tokyo Recognizes First Same-Sex Marriage In Japan

"I'm so happy—when they gave us the certificate, I cried. Our friends cried."

Hiroko Masuhara and Koyuki Higashi became the first same-sex couple to have their marriage officially recognized in Japan, when the couple tied the knot at the Shibuya ward office in Tokyo on Thursday.

"I am exhilarated that the city I am living has recognized my partner as my family," said Masuhara, 37.

Added, Higashi, 30, "I'm so happy—when they gave us the certificate, I cried. Our friends cried."

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese lesbian couple Hiroko Masuhara (L) and Koyuki Higashi smile as they receive a certification paper of "partnership" at the Shibuya ward office in Tokyo on November 5, 2015. While the certificates are not legally binding, the district hoped they would encourage hospitals and landlords to ensure same-sex couples receive similar treatment to married people. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

In March, lawmakers in Shibuya voted to grant marriage certificates to same-sex couples, the first ward in the country to do so. Another of Tokyo's 23 wards, Setagaya, voted to do the same a few months later.

It's a moral victory, to be sure, but the certificates have sever limitations: Firstly, they only grant equal rights and access in the two wards.

And they're not legally binding—individuals and companies can ignore them with no repercussions.

"I hope that this will be a step forward, not only for Tokyo but for the whole of Japan, to become a more comfortable place to live in," said Higashi. "Because there are LGBT people nationwide.

h/t: Huffington Post