FUKUOKA--Fukuoka, the largest city in Kyushu, plans to start issuing “partnership certificates” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples from April, the seventh such program in Japan.

Officials here hope to address situations in which sexual minority couples don't have the same rights as legally married couples of the opposite sex.

According to the officials, LGBT couples face different treatments when receiving doctors' explanations about their partner’s medical condition, renting apartments, selecting cellphone plans and participating in airline frequent flyer programs.

“We hope the local government's public support will become a catalyst for broader understanding of the issue among citizens,” said a city official.

The city government has requested 4.33 million yen ($40,400) for the initiative in the budget for fiscal 2018, which begins in April. It started considering a system to officially recognize sexual minority couples in fiscal 2014.

Under the program, the city will issue a partnership certificate for LGBT couples after receiving a signed statement with a copy of their family registry or other documents as proof that they are single.

A phone hotline service is also scheduled in cooperation with support groups for sexual minorities.

In 2015, Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards became the first local governments to start a partnership system for same-sex couples.

In June 2017, Sapporo introduced a system that covers broader sexual minority couples.

Similar systems have been introduced in Naha, Takarazuka in Hyogo Prefecture and Iga in Mie Prefecture.