Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 25th, 2008
Hi Blog. Interesting development. Comment follows article:
TOWARDS SUBMITTING A BILL REGARDING RECEIVING J CITIZENSHIP
LDP PROJECT TEAM: FOR SPECIAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS [ZAINICHIS]
Asahi Shinbun Jan 24, 2008
Translated by Arudou Debito, Original Japanese at http://www.asahi.com/politics/update/0124/TKY200801240498.html, or see previous blog entry.
TOKYO: A legal division within the Liberal Democratic Party, the “Project Team (PT) on Nationality Issues” (Kouno Taro, Lower House, Chair), decided at a meeting on January 24 to submit to this session of the Diet a bill, entitled “Special Exemption for Special Permanent Residents to Obtain Japanese Nationality”, which would simplify the procedure for Zainichi North and South Koreans etc. to become Japanese.
The bill would in essence provide a special procedure within the Nationality Law, limited to Zainichis, for them to receive fast-track approval within one year after application. Although in 2001 a similar bill was deliberated upon within the same committee, it was not formally submitted. Voices within the three-party ruling coalition countered, “If you create a fast-track for naturalization, you don’t need the [then-proposed] local-election suffrage bill [for Zainichis].” New Komeito countered, “We just can’t give up the Zainichi vote”, and both proposals fell through.
After January 24’s meeting, the 2001 Project Team’s former chair, Lower House Dietmember Ohta Seiichi, stressed, “I was particularly annoyed back then because we tried to take up the issue of local voting rights for Zainichis at the same time as amending the Nationality Laws. We didn’t listen properly to the needs of the actual Zainichi themselves, and look what happened. So this time, we’re only concentrating on simplifying the naturalization procedures, and not touching the local suffrage issue.”
COMMENT: Understood. But what of just granting Zainichis (or everyone who wants Japanese citizenship) Dual Nationality, and just being done with it? That would cut many a Gordian Knot–not the least being naturalization as an issue of identity sacrifice.
A major barrier to taking Japanese citizenship is indeed procedural (says I, a person who went through it), but the bigger barrier is the issue of having to decide whether or not you can stop being “Korean”, “American”, whatever, and start being “Japanese” only. You’re not allowed to be both, even though you WILL (and should) be both in a modern society, suitably tolerant of differences and plurality, as befits Japan.
EVERY ONE of Japan’s developed-country brethren allows somewhere, sometime, somehow, and officially, a measure for dual nationality. So should Japan.
No doubt Kouno Taro, a man who is doing very good works indeed (and I stress this here because I know he reads this blog), would argue that we have to do this step by step–one development here, another there. Or else, like in 2001, both issues will crowd each other out from getting through the door.
The above news is a step in the right direction, to be sure (especially if the bill actually does get passed). But people like me want more than just baby steps, and indeed would like it if naturalization were easier for everybody.
And the easiest way to make it easier for everybody would be to make dual nationality possible. Is my take.
Anyway, kudos to Kouno Taro once again. Arudou Debito in Yurakucho, Tokyo