Nationality

[Question] What are the conditions to acquire Japanese naitonality?

[Answer]

Japan extends its nationality either by virtue of “birth,” by “notification,” or by way of “naturalization.”

A person acquires Japanese nationality by birth;
1) When either parent is a Japanese national at the time of birth (A child born to a Japanese mother is automatically granted Japanese nationality, regardless of the nationality of the father and whether they are married, but a child born out of wedlock to a foreign mother and a Japanese father is granted Japanese nationality only when the father recognizes the child as his while the baby is still in the mother’s womb.)
(1)      When the father dies before the birth and is a Japanese national at the time of death
(2)      When a person was born on Japanese soil and both parents are unknown or stateless

A person acquires Japanese nationality by “notification”;

(1)      When an underage person whose father or mother has acknowledged paternity or maternity respectively, if the father or mother is a Japanese national at the time of the person’s birth, and such father or mother who made the acknowledgement is presently a Japanese national. According to the Article 3 of the Nationality Law, a person who made the notification shall acquire Japanese nationality at the time of the notification. The law was revised on January 1, 2009 following the Supreme Court ruling that denying Japanese nationality to children born out of wedlock to foreign mothers is unconstitutional. Such notification can be made with the Legal Affairs Bureau if the person lives in Japan and with the foreign establishments if the person lives abroad.

(2)      When a person who had lost Japanese nationality retroactively from the time of birth due to failure to notify the authorities within three months of the birth of the intention to retain Japanese nationality, and apply to reacquire nationality if the person is under 20 years old and lives in Japan.

A person acquires Japanese nationality by “naturalization," please refer to the following item on naturalization.

 

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[Question] Under what circumstances is a person considered a dual citizen?

[Answer]

Since each country has its own laws regarding the awarding of nationality, situations arise in which a person can acquire both Japanese and foreign citizenship through birth or marriage. Although some countries recognize dual citizenship, Japan tries to limit the types of cases in which it recognizes it.

The Civil Affairs Bureau (Ministry of Justice) homepage (http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/CIAB/ciab-01.html) lists the following scenarios as the ways in which a person might acquire both Japanese and foreign citizenship:

(1) an individual is born to a Japanese mother and a father from a country (such as Egypt) that recognizes patrilineal jus sanguinis

(2) an individual is born to Japanese mother or father and a mother or father from a country (such as France) that recognizes dual jus sanguinis

(3) an individual is born to a Japanese mother or father (or two Japanese parents) in a country that recognizes jus soli (citizenship determined by the place of birth)

(4) a foreign father of a Japanese national recognizes paternity (Canada), a Japanese national is adopted by foreigners (Italy), or a Japanese woman marries a foreign man (Iran) and acquires citizenship of the foreign country

(5) a foreign national is naturalizes as a Japanese citizen, but still retains his/her original citizenship as well

Ever since 1985, when Japan converted from patrilineal jus sanguis to dual sanguis, there have been some amendments to the Nationality Law, so that there is a procedure for reserving Japanese nationality, and a requirement that dual citizens choose one nationality. Dual citizens must choose a nationality by the time they reach the age of 22 (or within two years of acquiring dual citizenship, if they acquired it after the age of 20).

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