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  • Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 19th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    Hi Blog.  Another Asian country unbuttoning its top button regarding assimilation.  In the wake of passing a law in 2007 which effectively outlaws racial discrimination, it’s now proposing dual citizenship, with people keeping their second nationality if they naturalize.  Good.

    Japan, you taking notice?  Your Asian neighbor (and in their view, historical and economic rival) is yet again taking a lead to make things a bit better for its people of differences.  Well, maybe Japan won’t take notice.  But in any case it’s cheerworthy, especially if the bill passes.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    Allowing Dual Citizenship
    It’s Necessary to Enforce Fair, Transparent Rules
    Korea Times, Editorial, 03-29-2009, Courtesy anonymous

    It’s good news for foreigners that they can get Korean citizenship without giving up their own nationality from the latter part of this year at the earliest. The Ministry of Justice plans to present a bill to the National Assembly by June in a move to offer dual citizenship to foreigners with ample potential to contribute to national development. The plan is to allow dual citizenship on a limited basis to cope with the worsening brain-drain problem and attract talented foreigners into the country.

    It was inevitable that the country would ease its ban on dual citizenship in the era of globalization and a multicultural society. We believe the ministry has made the right decision to improve our national competitiveness by drawing more talented foreign professionals to the country. In fact, the rigid single-nationality regulation has been an impediment to foreigners’ activities and their life here. Thus, the possible softening of the regulation will enable more foreigners to better contribute to Korean society.

    According to official statistics, 170,000 people have given up their Korean citizenship over the last 10 years, while only 50,000 have obtained it. This means that the county suffers from a brain drain of more than 10,000 people every year. In separate developments, South Korea is steadily becoming a multicultural society. The number of foreign residents in the country has already reached one million, accounting for over 2 percent of the total population. And the ratio is likely to hit 5 percent in 2020.

    Under current law, non-Koreans are required to reside here for at least five years to apply for Korean citizenship, take a state exam and give up their original citizenship within six months after being naturalized. Many foreigners have long complained about the difficult, tedious and cumbersome process of naturalization. Likewise, businesses, universities and research institutions have also undergone difficulties in recruiting competent and talented foreigners due to the rules.

    If the bill is passed by the National Assembly and becomes law, foreigners evaluated by the government as “talented” will be allowed to become naturalized Koreans without rescinding their original nationality. The ministry has yet to set the criteria for foreigners eligible for dual citizenship. It simply said that those showing “outstanding performances” in the fields of science, business, culture and sports are likely to be the beneficiaries.

    The to-be-eased rules are also expected to help the country attract second- and third-generation ethnic Koreans overseas willing to return and contribute to the country’s development. But the government plan leaves something to be desired because it seeks to allow dual citizenship on a selective basis. Some immigration experts recommend that the government take bolder measures to allow more foreign residents to enjoy dual citizenship because many of them are working for Korea.

    It is imperative that policymakers shake off the negative image of dual citizenship because it has often been abused by some people, mostly Koreans, to avoid mandatory military service or evade taxes. It’s important to ensure fairness and transparency in the selection of foreigners for dual citizenship. We hope the government thoroughly prepares to make dual citizenship a success.


    12 Responses to “Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship”

    1. KG Says:

      But in the meantime…

      Japanese tourism up 61% in 1st quarter

      “However, the portion of people visiting Seoul for investment purposes in the first quarter plunged 19.2 percent on-year due to the global economic slump. ”

      oh and in Taiwan…

      and… the Taiwan working holiday visa “which in its initial stage will offer up to 2,000 openings per year.”

      Meanwhile, in Japan…

      Aso’s stimulous… “By cashing in on the overseas popularity of Japanese ‘‘anime,’’ comics and fashion, Aso set a target of drawing 20 million foreign visitors to Japan in 2020, more than double the present level of 8 million, creating a 20 trillion to 30 trillion yen market and generating 500,000 new jobs in the industry related to ‘‘soft power.’’

    2. carl Says:

      Good for South Korea. China has a serious (and when I say “serious” I mean SERIOUS) brain-drain problem too and maybe dual citizenship would be a good way for her to deal with that. That would, no doubt, catch Japan’s eye, as well, and possibly make them re-think their citizenship policy.

      Then again, there are about a billion people over here…would there even be space for millions of new immigrants?

    3. jim Says:

      this story makes me want to leave japan and move to korea, where at least foreignors have some human rights unlike here in japan. the GOJ feels that foreignors dont need rights against discrimination,,,what a joke..

      — I’m sure there are plenty of other issues in South Korea regarding foreigners. It’s just a step in the right direction.

    4. Paulo Says:

      I realize this is a positive step, but one wonders what the commentary would be if this was proposed in Japan.

      I would imagine that there would be plenty of comment from AD about the fact that there’s no guarantee that this bill will pass, and a complaint (according to the article) that it only going to be applied on a limited basis. And let’s not even get started on the fact that it’s only available to “foreigners evaluated by the government as ‘talented’ “. While I generally admire the work AD does, I can’t help wondering whether double standards sometimes creep in. Applauding something from the Koreans simply to stick it to the Japanese, when if it was the same proposal over here, there’d be a lot more cynicism about it.

      — Perhaps. Dunno. Bring it up when it happens here and I react then.

    5. James N Says:

      Great article!! I hope this influences the policy makers here…at least through osmosis. I’m very curious as to how many people would apply for Japanese citizenship if dual citizenship were allowed.

    6. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      My fear is that Japan might introduce dual citizenship, but still make alien cards and fingerprinting mandatory if the naturalizer still has any other citizenships. Or they might introduce dual nationality while at the same time forcing Japanese nationals to also carry papers. For those of us whose main desire for citizenship is to avoid having to carry papers, this would be a disappointment.

    7. Durf Says:

      One for the “contrast” column: Korean citizenship comes complete with a requirement for military service, one of the major factors behind that “brain drain” lamented in the article and a likely cause of failures of previous Korean government efforts to get second- and third-generation foreign nationals of Korean descent to come back to the motherland. I don’t see that addressed anywhere in the article, and I wonder whether it’s a requirement that’s still in place for these newly welcomed dual nationals, in which case I would expect to see their numbers climb very slowly indeed, if at all.

    8. Claus Says:

      “According to official statistics, 170,000 people have given up their Korean citizenship over the last 10 years, while only 50,000 have obtained it. ”

      Is there any kind of similar statistic on the number of people who give up Japanese citizenship?

    9. KG Says:

      re: Homework assignment… Compare and contrast…

      Just clicked onto the Korean immigration website… need a re-entry permit?… need to extend your visa?… make an appointment?… then do it on-line with e-applications… etc etc… quite an eye opener when compared to Japans…

    10. Chunbum Park Says:

      I don’t think the current concept of patriotism & citizenship as loyalty exclusively to just one country will last into the 21st century. Everyone, let’s become global citizens!

    11. darmal Says:

      Wasn’t there discussion in the diet recently (last fall?) about possible allowing dual-citizenship in Japan? I am hopeful that this comes about eventually.

      I wonder though if it would be any easier for me to (re)gain Japanese citizenship as I am half Japanese-Canadian and previously had dual citizenship. Any thoughts?

    12. Mark Anthony Kim Says:

      I think that allowing dual citizenship in Korea will not mean that all ethnic Koreans are going to want it either. Unlike Japanese citizenship where practically all ethnic Japanese will accept it, Korea has the unfortunate price of mandatory military service. People are still going to want to opt out so that they will not have to serve 2 years. Also, I think it would be fair to make the dual citizenship allowable for new citizens only since allowing those who secretly held onto dual citizenship prior to the date which will allow for dual citizenship would be deemed unfair to those who followed the rules and gave it up. Thus the reverse grandfather rule must be applied to those who obtained dual citizenship while it was still forbidden in both Japan and Korea.

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