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Hi Blog. In a landmark ruling yesterday (see articles below) first testing the waters for allowing Japanese to have more diverse roots in a legal sense, the Tokyo District Court has just ruled that Japanese who obtain other citizenships do not have constitutional protections from being subsequently deprived of Japanese citizenship.
a) If you as a Japanese citizen naturalize in another country, then when the Japanese government decides to take away your Japanese citizenship, you have no legal recourse under the Japanese Constitution. It can be unilaterally revoked at the government’s discretion.
(Same, no doubt, with people who naturalize into Japan but for whatever reason don’t get their foreign citizenship revoked — not all countries grant revocation as an option. So in that case, the Japanese government reserves the right there too to revoke, although this situation in specific hasn’t been tested in court yet.)
b) If you as a native-born Japanese citizen have dual nationality due to having international parents, and if you do not declare to the Japanese government that you are a Japanese citizen only (and have renounced all other citizenships by age 22 — as Osaka Naomi, referred to below, reportedly did), then the Japanese government can revoke your Japanese citizenship and not deprive you of any Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.
Conclusion: Essentially, nothing has changed in practice. The lower judiciary has essentially just made its stance against dual nationality clear. Take into account that this ruling, handed down by a notoriously conservative branch of Japan’s judiciary (yes, Tokyo District and High Courts are actually well-known around the Japanese legal community for their very conservative judgments), has merely affirmed what was already true: “two passports = untrustworthy”. And their legal reasoning mentioned in the articles below reflects that logic, based upon paranoid pre-war arguments about individual mixed allegiances threatening the motherland, etc., with no need to update for the complexities of the modern world. Should the plaintiffs decide to appeal this case, then the Tokyo High Court and probably eventually the Supreme Court will affirm the lower court’s ruling. So it’s definitive.
What to do about it: Continue to follow Debito.org’s advice: If you have two passports, you always claim to be solely Japanese by age 22 but secretly keep renewing your foreign passport. The Japanese government is still not fully enforcing any draconian “show us a revoked foreign passport by age 22 or we will revoke your Japanese citizenship” towards all its citizens with international roots. Given Japan’s dropping population, that’s probably not in its interest. But if the Japanese government ever gets around to doing that, based upon yesterday’s ruling, as far as the Japanese judiciary is concerned it will have free rein.
The only way this is going to change is if Dietmembers pass a law to specifically make dual nationality legal. Then the onus falls upon the judiciary to declare that law unconstitutional (probably not).
How likely is a law like this? Not very. But at least one politician (Kouno Taro) has made his support of dual nationality clear — not because of individual human rights and the dignity of diversity, but because that way Japan can increase its athletic talent pool (not to mention the issues of Japan “re-claiming” Japanese Nobel Prize winners who have naturalized abroad). The Kokutai as a whole must benefit or it’s not something to consider. Oh well. Plus ca change. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
And get a load of the person who inadvertently exposed all the hypocrisies of Japan’s dual nationality system: Former President of Peru and incarcerated crook Alberto Fujimori, a sudden newfound Japanese citizen when on the run.
Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality
January 21, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK and Mixed Roots in Japan
TOKYO (Kyodo) –[The Tokyo District Court (in Kyodo original)] on Thursday rejected a lawsuit challenging the country’s ban on its citizens from holding foreign nationality, in what is believed to be the first judicial decision on the matter.
In a lawsuit filed with the Tokyo District Court in 2018, eight men and women in their 30s to 80s who were born in Japan but now live in Europe claimed a legal requirement that Japanese who gain foreign nationality must give up their citizenship violates the Constitution.
The government, however, argued the plaintiffs’ claim takes no note of national interests, as permitting dual citizenship would enable people to have voting rights or diplomatic protection in other countries.
Dual citizenship “could cause conflict in the rights and obligations between countries, as well as between the individual and the state,” said Presiding Judge Hideaki Mori.
According to the suit, the eight plaintiffs — six who have acquired Swiss or Liechtenstein nationality and two others who plan to obtain Swiss or French nationality to facilitate their work and lives — hope to maintain their Japanese citizenship.
Article 11 of the nationality law states that Japanese citizens who acquire non-Japanese nationality on their own instigation automatically lose their Japanese nationality, effectively banning dual citizenship.
The plaintiffs claimed that the law was originally designed for purposes such as avoiding overlapping military service obligations imposed by multiple nations.
“The court did not seriously consider the feelings of Japanese living abroad,” Swiss resident Hitoshi Nogawa, 77, who led the plaintiffs, said following the ruling.
As many countries in the world, including the United States, now allow dual citizenship, the clause stripping people of Japanese nationality violates the Constitution, which guarantees the right to pursue happiness and the equality under the law, the plaintiffs said.
The issue of dual nationality in Japan drew global attention when tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, who had both Japanese and U.S. citizenship, selected Japanese nationality just before turning 22 in 2019. She was born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father.
The law requires those who acquired dual nationalities under 20 years old to choose one by age 22, and those who obtained them at age 20 or older to select one within two years.
The nationality law also requires Japanese citizens who obtain foreign citizenship to notify the government of their abandonment of Japanese nationality. But as it includes no penalties, many Japanese are believed to have maintained multiple passports after obtaining non-Japanese citizenship.
About 518,000 Japanese are estimated to have permanent residency status in other countries as of October 2019, but the government has been unable to confirm how many of them hold multiple citizenship.
東京地裁 二重国籍認めず 憲法に違反しないと判断
NHK 2021年1月21日 17時28分
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