BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho

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Hi Blog.  A friend of mine sends this crie du coeur about bureaucratic attitudes towards multicultural children in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city, at the Shibuya Ward Office, no less.  Have a read.  Used with permission.  Arudou Debito


In Praise of Pediatrics but Why Bother if You Steal the Future?
July 7, 2011, by “Bitter Valley”

A few weeks ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Not a “half” (I am British, my wife is Japanese) but a “full” person we hope will have a wonderful bicultural future. I felt encouraged when my Japanese father-in -law, who is in his 70s, beamed at her and me and said “nice mikksu!”  Good one!

I’ve promised myself that I am not going to get needled by the word “haafu” despite the fact that I don’t like it. I’ve talked to a lot of people I trust people who are my friends who are Japanese and they assure me that it’s meant as a complement. In fact women friends tell me they are jealous, and they wish they had a “haafu” as well. I still don’t like the fact that there are jarring connotations with the word and basically I would rather our daughter be considered as a person first, and not a person instantly differentiated on others based on her racial heritage. But I figure you pick and choose your battles and respect the culture you are living in, right?

Fine, right? Great. Mixed race kids of the world are the future anyway. Or so I figure.

Perhaps not in Japan, but that’s Japan’s grave to dig, isn’t it. If you’d rather have a robot help you in your own age than have a foreigner, then I think you deserve your selfish loneliness.

My dad-in-law, a traditional Japanese otosan in just about every department, is fine with me as a son-in-law. He’s able to look beyond his programming (gaijin are worse than us, better than us, gaijin are automatically this and that…gaijin…yawn)….

He’s already the doting dad-in-law. And one of my august aunties, who loves to drop names of the LDP politicians she rubs shoulders with (or maybe hair net line, she’s not that tall), you know, young radical progressives such as Nakasone and Fukuda, ASKED me to become a father, as she couldn’t have kids.

So great, mixed race, bi-nationality kids are fine with my in all other respects, conservative in-laws and inner family. Another comfy warm blanket of love enveloping my beautiful little infant daughter?

Well- NOT, according to the petty bureaucrats at Shibuya Ward Office.

But that’s getting ahead of things. I want to split this message into two parts. The first part is about the wonderful care my wife received at one of Japan’s leading pediatrics hospitals. The second half contrasts it to the shabby and stultifying misinformation she received from nobody local administrators in the ward office.

In Praise of Pediatrics

First of all, praise where praise is due. While I’ve had the odd “miss” going to a yabuisha (the neighborhood quack clinic). The best advice I’ve had from friends about going to the local clinic down the road is know what’s wrong with you first, and you’ll be fine.

But I’ve found Japan’s health service has done me fine over the last decade. Over the years, due to stress, age, Karate competitions and injuries, and even the odd car crash, I’ve broken bones and been rushed at low speed (c’mon, you know what I mean) in ambulances to around half a dozen hospitals in Japan and been saved from at least one life-threatening condition. My wife jokes that I’ve been carted around so many hospitals in Tokyo that I could write a tour guide. And I’ve found that at least the younger doctors who have treated me in major hospitals have been excellent. You have to have a lot of confidence in a stranger who is going to stick a huge needle through your back into your lung to drain it. And, as much as one can be fine about such things, most doctors I’ve had in this country have engendered confidence.

However this is submission is about my wife and daughter, not me.

Thanks to the staff at the 国立成育医療研究センター研究所, the National Center for Child Health and Development, my wife and child were pulled, lovingly and caringly, through a difficult situation. Rushed to hospital just as it turned June, the hospital managed to stop our daughter (due date July 21) being born at 32 weeks and facing weeks in an incubator, worries about her little lungs. Of course survivability is virtually guaranteed at that stage, although as an expectant father, you’d be worried about the virtually — virtually just doesn’t cut the mustard when you are talking about your own daughter. And long term health consequences are really reduced at a birth at 32 weeks, compared to a very early pre-term birth. Basically the doctor said every day in the womb is a better day for our daughter’s future.

Two and a half weeks strapped into drips in both arms was a small price to pay for a beautiful little girl born naturally.

The key message is that all the system worked as it should, and the result was a beautiful baby girl. Our local clinic spotted the symptoms early. We were informed exactly what was going on. They immediately put my wife on medication and attempted to stabilize her. They then quickly decided my wife’s condition required specialists. Instead of the nearest major hospital, they whisked her off to Japan’s number one pediatrics hospital.

Before the decision was made to take them to the National Center, we already knew the permutations, everything was done with our knowledge and consent.

And it was the same at the National Center. Where the majority of the doctors — yes the doctors — are women. If you are as cynical about Japan as I have become in some areas, then this will be a pleasant surprise. And there are male nurses there as well. It’s a great place to have a baby, frankly.

If you take away the stress and worry of the whole affair, we were treated just superbly. Dr. K (in her mid-30s) would come on duty when she was off when I rushed from the office (usually trying to get there by about 19:30) and make time to tell me exactly what was going on. She gave us permutations, told us what the options were at each stage.

The best thing about it is that she would make decisions to push for a natural birth, if (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) were to happen, whereas the older consultant (a man) was pushing for a caesarian. At every stage Dr. K made sure that we were informed, got our consent, gave us a run-down of the risks and possibilities, permutations. And, the point has to be made, in no baby or patronizing Japanese. Friendly, professional, matter-of-fact.

It was one of the times when I felt in this country that I was being treated as an intelligent, middle aged person, and not as a gaijin. Why should I be so surprised about this? Why, in my mid-40s should I just not accept this? Is this not natural?

Which brings us back to earth in part II of this long missive- dealing with the petty bureaucrats in “Bitter Valley.”

Bitter Valley

One of the things I have noticed in dealing with Shibuya Kuyakusho’s gaijin section, or what I would call brainwashed Japanese people who can speak English and are always putting barriers between themselves and gaijin while professing to do the opposite, is how we are always put back to square one.

I might own a couple of properties here, run a company, write books, be recognized as an expert in my field OUTSIDE Japan’s petty bureaucracy, but when it comes to dealing with these people, it’s always back to square one.

You are a gaijin, and therefore we will treat you as one.

In my dealings with petty bureaucrats in Shibuya Ward Office, I’ve faced the ridiculous situation where the bureaucrat will completely ignore me and just talk to my wife, mouth baby Japanese at me, tell me how good my Japanese is for doing basic things like writing my address or something. You’ll understand what comes next — and then fail to completely understand me when I ask a real question, or completely disengage when I attempt a real conversation, so that my wife re-repeats what I have told the other person. You know, the terrible triangle — we’ve all had it. I’ll say something. The person will look at me stunned or ignore me. My wife will repeat what I said. The person will engage with her and ignore me. Yes, this has happened to me at successive times at Shibuya Ward Office.

I am used to these petty insults- these people are trained to be stupid and in my cynical mind, I sometimes think getting one over the gaijin is just about the only fun they have in their petty drab paper shuffling experiences. You know, the fact that you speak read and write Japanese means nothing. You are a gaijin and you are zero. This is the basic mind set. You get people who are actually human about things, but IMO, there is almost no one more guaranteed to gaijinize you than a bureaucrat.

My wife has hitherto regarded these sort of situations as dealing with petty insects, really. To maintain the wa she never looses her temper with them, and puts up with it, although she did open up when the tax office were being particularly lazy in dealing with one of our issues. I watched as FIVE people shuffled our bits of paper around several desks at a sort of necral pace.

As for me, my core attitude is: who on earth are these people? You gotta have wa? Give me a break. Don’t patronize me!

Overall though my wife is a model of patience (she has to be, putting up with me for a start), and while on my side, tends to choose the path of least resistance to get whatever bureaucratic crap has to be got through gotten through.

But not this time. Oh no.

This time, the boot was firmly on her foot.

For the first time she was dealing with the biracial/ cultural future of our daughter close up, in focus.

Just before she was discharged from the hospital she decided to call up Shibuya-ku to find out about the teisuzuki for dealing with our little mite’s registration. I overheard the call.

My wife is already depressed that I am just a footnote on the family honseki, which she regards as a real shitsurei to me. You know, what the hell am I then, some kind of fucking appendage? Who are the racists who would do that to someone? Of course its the homusho, and frankly, they don’t give a fuck. It’s their country, they must protect the Yamato Race, and gaijin are either help or entertainment, and either way, are to be policed. End of story for them.

Let’s move on with the story.

But the attitude of the petty bureaucrat really shocked her. It was a time of really waking up to the situation. She was asking about registration, and the conversation got very heated about my daughter’s family name.

I am in the middle of changing my name by deed poll to reflect our daughter’s biracial heritage and also to pay respect to my wife’s family.

Why I am bothering to do this is to respect them, who have been completely supportive of me and repeatedly defended me against those who would gaijinize me (police, petty customs officials, etc.) by defending me as one of us, our family. I figured that if my wife’s conservative family would bring me inside and protect and defend me against anyone trying to to divide and rule us, I should honor them.

But when my wife broached the subject of dual nationality with the official, the tone turned hard.

“No, she can only be registered in your name.” What about her dual nationality “No, she has no dual nationality. She is Japanese.”

Until this point, I could understand the position of the official. Not support it, but I could see the point of view. We need as many new kids as possible. This is Japan. We think she is Japanese. But it was the following elements that really angered my wife:

But as the father is English, doesn’t she get a choice? she asked.

“No, she is Japanese. This is not like America, you know, where anyone can get nationality just by being born there,” the bureaucrat spat out, obviously scornfully.

“This is JAPAN. She has Japanese blood. She is Japanese.” (My emphasis, but I could hear the horrible little person on the other end of the phone…)

Wife: But can’t she choose later?

“No, she is Japanese!”

My wife shouted down the phone to the effect of: “How dare you tell me my daughter’s business? She can be Japanese or English, or both if she wants, because she can keep both passports.”

She cut the phone and looked at me.

She said: “The Japanese system is broken.”

We are seriously thinking of getting out of this country and its antediluvian attitudes to race and nationality. I just think this nationality by blood stuff is, quite frankly, racist. My wife thought it grossly unprofessional to flat-out misinform her about our daughter’s future.

To me, the tragedy is in the irony of the fact that Japan has a finely tuned, modern, caring, forward-thinking medical system that fought for our daughter’s life on the one hand, and a tired jaded, petty and racist legal system that would seek to deny her basic freedoms as a potential citizen of Japan or England.

It seems that one end of the Japan’s bureaucracy has invested a fortune in preserving and nurturing and promoting life, while another part of the bureaucracy seems intent on stunting it. I went from being a father to being a gaijin and an issue to be swept away like it didn’t exist in the bureaucrat’s mind. My wife is Japanese. Our daughter is Japanese, because she has Japanese blood. I am nowhere.

Thanks a lot. Cheers. But actually, up yours.

Japan’s koseki system and the sort of petty nationalism/xenophobia exhibited to my wife hark back to 19th century racism and imperialism. It made my wife, who was recovering, sick.

It would of course be shocking and horrifying if Japan had trapped its attitude to medicine, health and healing to 19th century attitudes and assumptions. Yet the legal system in this country seems trapped in some sort of filthy 19th backwater of stupidity and ignorance.

49 comments on “BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho

  • Interesting story, nothing new though. (I was expecting something a little more juicy!)

    On the plus side, the British gov don’t recognise the Japanese “one passport” system and if you get your kid registered in the UK no one has the authority to take that passport away. Not even the grey zombies at shibuya ward office.

    Actually, thats not fair. I’ve always had the luck to speak to normal human being staff there, who treated me like one too. Case in point I was there the other day and the geezer I was talking to didn’t ask for my alien registration card or passport, didn’t speak baby Japanese (or anything too beyond my limited range) or talk about my Japanese skill. He treated me like a normal person who came to the tax office.

  • What you should have done is to get her British nationality first based on her birth certificate, and only after that register her at the city office. Nationality law is very vague. In principal, nobody can have dual nationality here in Japan. This is there law, and no matter like we it ot not, there is nothing much we can do. There are few things you should know about the nationality law: when a person obtains Japanese nationality automatically he/she loses any other nationally he/she had before. So according Japanese law your daughter would lose the British nationality once she gets her koseki at the city office. But if the British nationality law is more flexible and accepts dual citizenship, she’ll be just fine having both citizenships and keeping it low. But if she gets her Japanese koseiki first, and after that she gets British citizenship, then according to the Japanese nationality law she would automatically lose her Japanese nationality. Because here in Japan people can not have two nationalities, and the British one was taken the last. If the related ministry would ever discover the fact, they may take the Japanese nationality from her.

  • Again, the law is very vague, and you may argue that she is not an adult, so all the decisions of nationalities were not made by her, but by her parents. So the Japanese usually close their eyes on children’s duel citizenships. The kids usually grow up and within a year or two after turning 21 they have to decide by themselves. Still, knowing that the Japanese are de facto allowing kids to hold dual citizenships does not mean that the officials from the city office would openly accept this fact, especially talking to you or your wife through the phone. You can be angry at the law, but you have no right to be angry at the low level government workers who just follow the rules. Your anger came from your own ignorance of the nationality law, it has nothing to do with the Japanese officials being racist.

    — Sure he can. Quick lesson in civics and freedom of expression: He has the right to think or feel anything about anyone. How he acts on those feelings, however, is another matter. Writing them up for thusly is perfectly legitimate.

    Let’s lay off on blaming the victim, everyone, as it helps no-one deal with these complicated issues.

  • There are many NJ living in Shubuya district, and the city workers are dicently nice there IMHO. I know an Australian couple who were registering there their second kid who was born in Japan. The government worker asked if the couple was married in order to register the kid under his father’s surname. My friends are not married, and so they said. In that case, the city worker said they could not register the baby under his father’s surname. Then my friends asked if they needed to provide any paper proof of their marriage, and were told that no proof was needed. Immediately they wrote a new application stating that the couple was married. The city worker accepted the appliction wihtout a word. The baby was registered under his father’s name….
    You know that the siystem is broken, THEY know it too. And they will help you to avoid the bitter valley , if you help yourself first. But do not expect them to give you any tip on how to bend the system, you have to find those ways by yourself.

  • Olya that is not correct. Under Japanese nationality law, dual nationality is allowed until the age of [20] at which point a choice has to be made [by age 22]. I know, because I have three children with multiple passports, and have looked into this in detail.

  • What Japan has is a “finely tuned, modern, caring, forward-thinking medical system” that operates something like a business, and like so many other Japaneses businesses, provides a quality product to their customers. They also have a government that operates nothing like a business, but knows its best interests as a nation state are served by strictly controlling its borders and those that they include in the rolls of citizenship. The nation state feels no empathy for you, as an outsider, or for your children unless they are registered as citizens. As a citizen, they expect your wife to accept the rule of the state, and treat outsiders accordingly, regardless of her relationship to said outsiders. Every other nation state in the world is a variation on this theme, some more, some less draconian.

    I’m not suggesting that this situation is acceptable, but petitioning the state won’t get you far, either.

  • I don’t really get what the problem is. I registered my child as Japanese in Yokohama and as Irish in the embassy. As far as I am concerned she is 100% Japanese and 100% Irish. I know there is the issue of choosing nationality when you are 20 but that can simply be avoided in most cases and there is also the chance that Japan will have a dual nationality system down the line anyway.

    It seems on the one hand you don’t like the haafu idea but you are demanding some type of haafu status (dual nationality) in the ward office. Maybe I am missing something…

  • Congrats on your baby girl, I sometimes wish I had one, then at other times, it seems it would seal my fate to be here another 15. I dont like that “haafu” shit either, it dehumanizes somebody, Ive seen it myself and its brutal. As far as the city employees go, most are asses, as are any government employee in any country. Its impossible to hold them accountable, as they got the juice and can mess with you even though we are collectively paying their worthless ass. Its why Ill never work in the gov. sector again. It has nothing to do with service, they get paid regardless if he do a good job or not, same as U.S. system.

  • “Nationality law is very vague. In principal, nobody can have dual nationality here in Japan. This is there law, and no matter like we it ot not, there is nothing much we can do”

    Well there are some that are out there pushing it, you can meet them over at the haters site I think. What they do is get the Japanese citizenship first, then never to to the U.S. or other embassy and renouce. As long as they dont renounce, the US gov, to my understanding, cannot take their citizenship forceably even though he has Japanese nationality. What I suspect Japan will start doing, is requiring forigeners to renounce before they naturalize.

    — That would be difficult to enforce. That would mean rendering yourself stateless for a period of time, something I don’t think the GOJ would be in accordance with world standards regarding nationality laws. (But I’m not an expert on international law, so somebody who knows more please weigh in.)

  • I don’t like the term “haafu” because what it really means is “half the value of a full-blood Japanese”. I’d rather call your daughter a muggle.

  • Bitter Valley says:

    To be fair to Shibuya Ward office, I’ve also been treated quite reasonably there as well. I’ve had my ups and downs like anyone else, but of course I don’t like dealing with idiots same as anywhere else. I expect to be treated decently and not patronized, not have comments or this and that about my Japanese, not be ignored because obviously I am too dumb or don’t have the skills to understand, etc.

    I tended to focus on the negative this time because of the attitude of the petty bureaucrat to my wife, so I’m guilty of magnifying and conflating several bad experiences I’ve had there, whereas I find dealing with people you get all sorts.

    Yes, the koseki system and attitudes seem absurd, and I think I interjected myself too much into the story. What I had meant to say is the penny dropped for my WIFE, not for me. She was the one this time to get annoyed.

    I think I understand Olya’s point and I am thankful for it. Saying that, I will reserve the right to be angry to anybody I like at any time, and so will my wife. We are reasonable people, I’d hope. I don’t wake up in the morning angry about Japan, actually, and there are so many great things about being here. The nationality law isn’t one of them. And the Koseki system is another piece of rotten rubbish that needs to get thrown out in the garbage, I think.

    Thank you Premster. Thank you AI. I am not sure I understand your point about mixing the haafu thing, but I think that’s a smashing idea- 100% Japanese and 100% English. That’ll do it for me :-).

    I’ve tried to look at this from the way someone who thinks I am being selfish. It’s difficult. My feelings are evolving as I think this through more.

    I’m not sure about being selfish about having my cake and eat it. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I don’t see the issue objectively. I’m prepared to admit that.

    Are the people who would think my daughter doesn’t deserve to be able to choose her nationality or identity? I think it’s uncharitable in the the extreme. I think she should have a right to emotional independence, freedom, and the chance to design her own life with the tools that she develops as she grows up and how hard she works and educates herself.

    Perhaps I am just projecting frustrations on the bureaucrat. But it was my wife’s comment and anger that unleashed this tide of introspection.

    Of course I am just being the ideal father expecting or wanting to make the best of the future. I’d hope people would respect the spirit of the feeling, even if they would feel me being selfish or inordinately naive.

    Ideals? And soiled daipers! Anyway, I am getting back to having a great time of bathing and cuddling my daughter, and whoops! the nappy cuddle drink burp pooh-pee-sleep cry whatever cycle that has taken over our household!

  • Firstly, congratulations of your happy event! Secondly, what an unpleasant little man. He either doesn’t know the law or doesn’t care, and just seeks to bully his racist views onto your wife.

    Needless to say he’s wrong. Your daughter is British, of course, and that is that. You don’t need to register this anywhere or apply for a passport, as the child of a British citizen, she is British and can excise this claim at any point in her life, until/if she decides to renounce this. (this is unlike Japan, where until someone is registered on a koseki tohon, one is not Japanese). So it doesn’t matter where she is born, who her mother is, or even what some idiot petty bureaucrat says – she is British, if she wants to be.

    However, of course it is easier to prove her Britishness if she is registered. The UK allows multiple nationalities, whereas Japan, as has been stated, only allows dual nationality until age 20 as well as during the period following this or naturalization whilst you attempt to renounce your alternative citizenship. The only rules on this is both countries require you to enter and leave the country using that countries passport. This gets fun when they have different names on the passports and tickets.

    You can register your daughter at the embassy (up until she is 1 year old), they will give you a certificate of consular registration within a week – which to all intents and purposes is very similar to a UK birth certificate – it looks the same and can be used in the same manner and the details are sent on to the UK registry office, so you can get copies there later. You don’t need to do this, but it makes things much easier, as you then don’t need to get translations of Japanese documents or enter into a lot of explanation when dealing with the UK system. Another advantage is that you can choose the father’s or mother’s surname for the child, although the koseki will only give the Japanese partners surname and you can add middle names and render the romaji spelling however you choose. I went even further for various reasons and after a number of month wrangling with the FCO, my son has a completely different first name too. This makes passport applications much easier, as the name is exactly how you want it and it is the only document required – so quick turnaround. UK passports for Japan are processed in Hong Kong now to save money and it took 10 days for my son’s first passport – including sending to/from Hong Kong.

    To apply for a a certificate of consular registration, the easy documents needed are an original of the mother’s koseki showing the child added and you as father (in a footnote), original marriage certificate (or a statutory declaration if parents are unmarried), your long form British birth certificate, and your British passport – unlike Japan, they copy the documents and you get all the documents back. You can do it by post or in person, but the charges are a little ridiculous compared with getting a birth certificate back home (free). I would really recommend spending the yen and doing this registration process as it could make many things easier for all three of you in later life in the UK.

    As a counter point – this seems to be a problem with this individual person on the helpline. No excuse, but I’m sure in Japan, unlike the UK, a complaint of racism by a public sector worker wouldn’t be appropriately dealt with. Other commenters in this thread seem to suggest that not all the staff at that city all are so bigoted. My own experience of registration was also pleasant, they first processed the hospital birth certificate to add to my wife’s koseki, then gave me an amended form to add my son as a dependant to my foreigner registration. And then the guy rushed me over to another nearby building as it was near closing time, to register for the child benefit payments – which I certainly wasn’t expecting. So I don’t think this particular racist problem is universal or in fact true in law.

    I agree that in social law, Japan is where many western countries were many decades ago – I hesitate to say Japan is behind the times, but I don’t think a comparision with medicine does this justice. In medicine Japan is definitely may years behind modern medical practices. Regarding the husband/father recorded as a footnote – yes it seems unfair, but I don’t think it is really discriminatory. The Japanese family registration system is really different to the UK system, where as I said earlier there is no central registration of citizenship. Instead birth certificates amongst other things are relied upon. After you hand in you hospital birth certificate – you won’t need it in Japan again, as you (or in fact anyone it seems) can pop along and get a new koseki copy (we got the hospital to make a couple of extra copies of the certificate, in case some country in the future needs an original birth certificate of some description). In the same way as you not being entered on the family records as a Japanese person, if you moved to the UK, your wife would not get a British birth certificate. If either of you naturalized, you would be get either a koseki or a certificate – so I don’t see any difference between these two systems, nor are they discriminatory. The problem I have is with the juminhyo – not putting NJ on these makes no sense and does seem to discriminate unnecessarily against foreigners. I understand this is going to change in the near future, and but perhaps other readers know more about this. I see a system with one local registration system for all residents combined with two long-term systems of Japanese family registration or foreigner registration as entirely fair. My equivalent situation for foreigners in the UK is the electoral roll – foreigners as non-voters are not added to this (yes, the UK does NOT have suffrage for non-EU citizens) – the problem with this is that the electoral roll is the first starting point by for many checking process – credit reference agencies will immediately put a negative against you in the UK for not existing on this list. When my wife lived in the UK, she had lots of trouble every time she applied for a credit card or tried to rent a flat – she had to produce certified copies of her passport, not something ever asked of me when we took out joint rental agreements – she used to think this pretty racist. So Japan isn’t really unique in having problems with identifying non-citizens being seen as racist.

    Finally, (sorry for yet another verbose post – but I hope some of the details on UK birth registration are useful to “Bitter Valley” or maybe to other readers here) I too hate the half a person connotation of ハーフ. I know it is just the Japanese word for it and so I shouldn’t be offended, but “half” used in this context in the UK would be seen as pejorative. I’d like something based around double instead, as I think being part of two cultures adds something to a person rather than halves their value.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I call my daughter a ‘hybrid’, like a Prius, because she’s helping Japan be a better country.

  • okazakiom says:

    I’m confused, too. Registered under her name? If husband and wife don’t share the same surname, then it stands to reason that the child will have the mother’s name on the family register if daddy’s a gaijin, no? Or am I missing something? What is the problem here other than the usual petty bureaucracy?

  • Completely agree with Al. If the Japanese side insist she is 100% Japanese, what’s the problem? She can be 100% British too. What did he want them to say, that she was only partly Japanese?

    This gentleman is holding on WAY too tight.

  • @ Premster. I thought so too before. And then I went to my embassy to get second citizenship to my kids where I was worned that there are cases when even kids were taken away their first Japanese citizenship. As I said this nationality law is twisted. Try to google for The Nationality Law (Law No.147 of 1950, as amended by Law No.268 of 1952, Law No.45 of 1984, Law No.89 of 1993 and Law.No.147 of 2004,Law No.88 of 2008)

    They DO ALLOW kids to have dual citizenship de facto, because kids are not adults and can not make their own choices. So they are given some kind of a second chance to decide for themselves when they grow up. Article 11 of the law states ” a Japanese national shall lose Japanese nationality when he or she acquires a foreign nationality by his or her own choice.” From that we just presume that the kids who have dual nationalities and acquired them by their parents choice are safe, nothing else concrete is written in this law about children’s dual citizenship.
    So, yes, basically everybody is having it dual until the age of adulthood. But if some POS government official suddenly decides that your kid has to lose his or her Japanese citizenship because he or she has another one, that official will probably file the case to the Ministry of Justice and they will take the Japanese one away. This happened with someone I know, who while renewing her kid’s Japanese passport, being asked why there were no entry to foreign country stamps in the old passport, honestly answered it’s just because he has two passports…
    Anyway, there are many laws in Japan which has even less sense that this nationality law.
    bureaucrats are everywhere, and I’ve heard that the worst ones are in Germany 😉
    the authors frustration is understandable, I can relate to him on many levels.
    But I think there is not so much base in staying angry at the low lever koumuin. Why blame the messenger ?

    — Because in this case the messenger also at times channels messages back up into the system. It’s worth the effort to do so. Because doing nothing means the possibility of anything changing is essentially zero.

  • Brilliantly said: 100% Japanese and 100% British! That’s exactly what I say to my kids all the time, that they are not half of something, but instead twice or three times more 🙂
    I have to agree on channeling the information back up into the system, and yes, it’s probably better than doing nothing.
    Personally, I just dont like to stay angry or frustrated, especially on bureaucrats. It’s so nice to hear that Bitter Valey is getting back to being a happy father!

  • Regarding posting 9

    They are doing it already.

    I know a case of a Peruvian who had to handle a paper from the Peruvian Government saying that he was no longer Peruvian, in order to be granted Japanese Citizenship.
    What happens is that at the very moment the document was signed by the Peruvian authorities, he became Japanese. What he had to do was to show this to the Japanese authorities and get his Japanese citizenship certificate.
    In this way he was not rendered stateless for any period of time.

  • @ Debito in #9: actually, this is now what happens with UK nationals who want to nationalize in Japan. You have to give up your UK nationality first (luckily, you can get it back at will later, something that I am not sure the Japanese officials are aware of ;), then receive Japanese nationality. You are officially stateless in the meantime.

    It’s giving me a lot of food for thought, ’cause I don’t like the idea (or the prick that interviewed me in Sendai last February). My thoughts of nationalizing are on hold, and leaving for greener pastures is getting more and more attractive…

    — Wow. Back when I did it, I was a dual national for a stretch, and I had a two-year grace period to give up my US. But that was well more than a decade ago. Things could well have changed.

    Please feel free when you have a breather (probably never, I know) to write up what happened during that interview last February for

  • Bitter Valley says:

    I, for one, would be very interested in reading about Sendaiben’s experience too.

  • Re: #12: I don’t think the lack of a family registry for foreign nationals in Japan is equivalent to foreign nationals in the UK not receiving a birth certificate on marriage. UK birth certificates represent registration of the birth of a British citizen, but a new family registry is established on marriage. Foreign nationals in the UK do receive marriage certificates when they wed, and they are registered equally with their British spouse. I attended an international wedding in the UK a while ago where the bride was even allowed to sign her name in both romanised letters and Chinese characters on the actual document the couple signed at the ceremony. No problem at all.

    To pick up on another point in #12, it is possible for a British citizen to enter the UK on a foreign passport that has the appropriate visa etc., but if their intention is to resume residence, that will cause problems and delays with the Border Agency.

    However, there is a solution, providing the child has never been issued with a UK passport: a ‘Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode in the United Kingdom’. This is a stamp in the foreign passport which proves the child has right of abode in the UK and therefore British citizenship (though it doesn’t directly state that), and it allows the foreign passport to act as though it were a British passport; for example, the bearer can join the EU/EEA entry queue even if the passport was issued elsewhere.

    The UK is generally much more flexible than Japan on these matters. But regarding the electoral roll, yes, that is a clear case of discrimination, because anyone not on it will have trouble showing creditworthiness. However, anyone who is citizen of an EU, EEA, or Commonwealth of Nations country (+Switzerland) can vote in all or most elections, so the problem applies to citizens of countries with no strong political or cultural ties to the UK. (Non-EU nationals also must possess UK ID cards, though they are not required to carry them, nor show them to the police – it’s to prove (non)-entitlement to benefits, because in the UK the antipathy towards foreigners seems to be based on the idea that “they” are taking money and jobs.) It’s still discrimination, though, since while a Japanese could reside in the UK for 50 years and never be able to vote despite paying tax, someone from, for example, Zambia or France can register on the roll as soon as they arrive, even if they never pay tax. But that case of discrimination has to be weighed against the less-than-perfect Japanese system, under which foreign nationals don’t really exist at all, except on the Alien Registration database.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I understand the law that requires some people to make their choice by the age 21–I’m referring to Japanese “Koseki-hou” or the nationality law. Yes, it states that all Japanese citizens–including myself– hold a single citizenship (Japanese) and hence a red passport for traveling. Anyone who was born to a Japanese family in Japan or any foreign country is automatically entitled to Japanese citizenship. However, it is also true that foreign-born Japanese and bi-racial/bi-cultural individuals can also claim the citizenship of the other parent if he/she wants to. That’s why the nationality law allows them to wait until they turn 21 to make an important decision in their life. Yes, this is the matter of choice that should be made none other than themselves. It’s none of MOJ’s or municipal office staff’s damn business! It just makes me wonder if the ward office correctly understands “Koseki-hou” in Japanese.

  • Fellas what about all those mixed race kids in UK, US and elsewhere that are saddled with mixed race tag? Isn’t that what hafu means?

    Sorry re nationality woes but this hafu/mixed race business is everywhere! My poor cousin had to endure half caste In the 60s through to early 90s:(

    — So you’re saying we shouldn’t address these issues here because these issues exist elsewhere? Sorry, no dice.

  • – Wow. Back when I did it, I was a dual national for a stretch, and I had a two-year grace period to give up my US. But that was well more than a decade ago. Things could well have changed.

    Please feel free when you have a breather (probably never, I know) to write up what happened during that interview last February for

    I think you have been missing the point with changes in the nationality laws and procedures, both here and in South Korea.
    They are less about making it easier for non-Koreans and non-Japanese to take up the option of nationality than making it easier for ‘real’ Koreans and Japanese to circumvent their old nationality laws and have dual nationality.

    A classic case of Japanese (and Korean) attitude that ‘what is yours is mine. What is mine is mine’.

  • A couple of things leave me a little confused as I try to get to the root of this.

    If BV is reading:

    Firstly, would it be correct to infer from this that BV and his wife have different surnames? I.E. His wife did not change her surname to his on marriage?

    Secondly, was the request to Shibuya City Hall to register the child, on the wife’s Koseki, with a different Surname from the wife’s surname? And what name is listed for the child on the Hospital birth certificate? I assume the two have to be consistent.

    Finally, sorry, could you clarify this:

    I am in the middle of changing my name by deed poll to reflect our daughter’s biracial heritage and also to pay respect to my wife’s family.

    You’re changing your surname to be the same as your wife, or some combination of your two family names, or something else? Would you end up with all immediate family members having the same family name?

  • What is a proper Japanese word for mixed race children?
    混血児(a mixed blood child) is a stringly pejorative word in Japanese.

  • @John no. 21.

    Thanks for your reply and corrections. I had not heard of a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode in the United Kingdom and that certainly sounds like an alternative to having applying for a British passport and potentially acts as a long-term solution. I guess in this case a person could still apply of for a British passport at a later date as they would have never given up their claim to be British. I’ve never found a Japanese passport to have any disadvantages over a British one, and even in Europe my wife often gets through immigration faster than me. Also, I’ve had no problems with foreign passport holders who are related to me, accompanying me through the EU immigration lanes.

    Regarding entering UK on a foreign passport, rather than a British one, as you say, this could cause problems if you wish to “overstay” the visa, although you are entitled to be there and if they reintroduce exit immigration, it could get messy – I can’t see any advantage on entering under these conditions. Equally, dual nationals do report entering Japan under their foreign passport (to work as a JET or to simplify getting a rail pass) and with no fingerprint checks for Japanese, it is unlikely they could connect this up – the same potential problems are there though, if you want to restart residence having entered on the “wrong” passport.

    I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the flexibilities in passports and use of names. After our marriage, the Japanese embassy (as well as “footnoting” me in my wife’s kosek) added my surname to her passport in brackets – so she for most purposes she is able to use either surname in Japan or England – this is something denied to Japanese women marrying Japanese men who have to change their surnames. My son’s Japanese passport similarly has my surname in brackets and they offered to add his English first and middle names in brackets to his passport too. These appendages can be added or taken away anytime you like. Also NJ in Japan have the advantage of being easily able to register an official alias – so if needed I can use a name in kanji, where my wife and I share a surname (we’ve found this useful for getting insurance, where that particular company required family members to share the same surname). Getting documentation to prove a name change in the UK is more difficult and less flexible.

    The voting rules do seem a bit odd – I pay no UK Tax and don’t live there, but I’m still allowed to vote in national UK elections, but permanent (non-EU) residents may not be even allowed to vote in local elections.

    “I don’t think the lack of a family registry for foreign nationals in Japan is equivalent to foreign nationals in the UK not receiving a birth certificate on marriage.” I was being a little ridiculous there, but I think my point is that there isn’t a direct equivalent of a family registry in the UK, so people are expecting Japanese officials to do something that wouldn’t happen in their own country. The footnoted marriage is acceptable anywhere as proof of marriage, so it serves the job. I suspect the fundamental problem with putting a NJ’s name in the spouse box is that they then don’t link to anywhere else in the koseki system. I’m sure the forms and records will eventually catch up with the modern world and I don’t think the current system causes many problems. I’ve certainly not had any issues in not having a koseki, as my alien registration suffices, on the other hand I have had trouble explaining why I don’t have juminhyo and this really does need to be reformed.
    “bride was even allowed to sign her name in both romanised letters and Chinese characters on the actual document the couple signed at the ceremony”. This is also my experience, but Japan allows similar on official documents: it is usually perfectly acceptable these days to sign in roman letters rather than stamp. I agree that NJ are treated differently (and arguably to a disadvantage) in some official records in Japan, but that’s no different to the UK in terms of some records. I’m not saying the Japanese system doesn’t need to be reformed, but no system is perfect. And I do see a lot of victim mentality on NJ forums focusing on things that aren’t really problems (although NJ do have plenty of other problems in Japan that are real and more substantial) and are no better in their own countries.

    And I think 100% British and 100% Japanese is about right.

  • Maxabillion Slartibartfast says:

    What is a proper Japanese word for mixed race children?

    That reminds me of this old joke:

    Q: “What do you call a black man flying an airplane?”

    A: “A pilot, you racist!”

  • But registration on the family koseki isn’t anything to do with nationality. Entering the the girl as the mother’s daughter doesn’t affect her Britishness; she can get her passport any time she wants.

  • @Nogbad, #27: thanks for your reply. I see your points, and I think where we disagree is over footnoting, which I get more worked up about than you. I didn’t know about adding names to Japanese passports.

    Regarding the ‘right of abode’ certificate: yes, they are still British and can always get a UK passport. Once they do so, however, they can never, ever obtain a certificate again. They used to allow this but changed the rules a few years ago. The certificate seems to be primarily for people to attempt to conceal their British nationality. The only people who could perhaps get it who are genuinely not British citizens are a few classes of Commonwealth citizens who were around before 1983, according to the Border Agency website. If a holder could get the Japanese passport stamped at the border too, that would probably make it look like the bearer held only Japanese nationality, unless Japanese immigration officials are wise to the certificate. I suspect that the embassy staff in the UK probably would know what it meant, though, so I suppose the bearer would have to ‘lose’ their passport on every renewal…

    On the matter of names, the UK does not allow parents to register a British-Japanese child with anything other than their romanised Japanese first name unless it is a “clear Anglicisation” of that name – though they don’t mind them having different surnames! Good for you for getting the name. Another way: I got on to the UK deed poll service recently [the official place to change, add or delete names] and they told me that your child can be born in Timbuktu and never set foot in the UK for all they care, as you can always change a child’s name with them. So e.g. ‘Keiko Mary Jane Smith’ can be switched to ‘Mary Jane Smith’ no problem at any point. It does leave you with a birth certificate that will always record the original name, though.

  • My wife is pregnant with child #2, due is mid november. She found out after she went over to visit her parents at the end of January and we’ve decided that it would be easier for her to stay there and give birth, tough as hell for me because we’ve been separated for about 5 and half months now, at least we have video skype, but it’s still pretty tough not seeing my son everyday. But I digress
    Our first child was born in Japan and as far as I’m concerned, he’s a dual national. He has both a canadian and japanese passport. We’ll have to go through the same rigamarole with #2 to get him/her canadian citizenship. My son doesn’t have a birth certificate because he wasn’t born inside canada. However, he has a citizenship card which took about 7 months to get processed and go through the CIC (citizenship and immigration canada) which in turn allowed him to get his passport, SIN card, helath insurance, etc etc. Canada definitely allows dual citizenship but I’m not sure yet if they recognize Japan’s forceful choosing of only 1 after 20~22.
    My own experience of registering the child in Japan was fairly straight-forward, only because my wife did all the work, haha. Our son has a non-japanese first name, japanese middle name and my family name. There was never any issue of the name, i.e they never made my wife register the family name as her japanese maiden name, and we never got any grief from the city office at all. I think the only “issue” was the middle name.. since they really don’t exist in Japan and didn’t know how to read his first-middle name. They had a tendancy to say it both. We did it as a formailty, as I have a middle name, but only call him by his first name. His citizenship never became an issue at the city office. Even though its pretty obvious that his name is pretty much not japanese, even my wife took my last name, he was assumed to be Japanese and that was the end of it, we were never asked what my nationality is and if the child took mine as well. Whether or not this was a good thing, remains to be seen.. not sure if I should have made a mention of this or not at the time. Any thoughts?

    Its unfortunate that the original poster had so much trouble from his city ward office, definitely their conduct to his wife was quite rude. Who knows, if they called on a different day and time, they may have spoken to someone more willing to listen to them. The modern world has allowed people to easily move from country to country, mixing cultures and ideas and inevitably starting families with two people of different backgrounds. Let’s hope Japan wakes up to this idea and finally realize this is the way things work now

  • There aren’t any good words for mixed-bloodedness(although I think I just used one of the worst) because all of them implicitly ratify the notion of pure-bloodedness in the parents and others. Multiple-cultural is inaccurate in the case of a newborn, too. The best compromise for now would probably be multi-ethnic, if only because more people realize ethnicities are socially constructed than do races or “blood”.

  • Ah Japan…..Jus sanguinis to the end.

    Though, according to the U.S. gov. “United States law does not contain any provisions requiring U.S. Citizens who are born with dual nationality or who acquire a second nationality at an early age to choose one nationality or the other when they become adults” Japan, actively requires individuals who hold dual nationality to choose one, 2 years from the time they reach adulthood. (so 22 years old)

    How does this then factor in terms of what U.S. (unofficial?) policy is? I have never had this clearly explained to me. Maybe cas nobody actually knows and it is all case by case? Just to make things more confusing, the U.S. gov states that…

    “While recognizing the existence of dual nationality and permitting Americans to have other nationalities, the U.S. Government does not endorse dual nationality as a matter of policy because of the problems which it may cause.”

    I believe the politically correct term here is WTF?

    As an earlier poster said, I am just hoping that this foolishness of having to choose is long a thing of the past when me own 2 childs reach adulthood here.

    whatta godawful mess

  • The proper word should be “double”-dabburu in the native idiom. This is to replace “haffu”-which is condescending. I am proud that my wife who used to write for a vernacular newspaper began this trend in the Japanese media.

  • Mark Hunter says:

    There is no proper name. Our need to label is rather sad. “Double” is just plain dumb and “haffu” is downright racist and just a form of ostracism to make some people feel comfortable.

    (Debito: The CBC Radio piece on immigration to Japan which aired last summer aired again this week, minus your bit. FYI.)

  • When my son was born (dual citizen French/Japanese), I registered him at the French embassy and was given a talk by the officer in charge. Basically, I was told that even though the Japanese government requires people to choose one citizenship when they reach 22 years old, the French government will always recognize my son as French, even if he is asked to destroy his French passport in front of Japanese immigration officials (which of course they never do). The officer also told me they never give any information to foreign governments concerning the citizenship status of private individuals (except in particular situations), therefore the Japanese government has no duty in asking you to renounce French citizenship and has no way to enforce this rule. I believe that most dual French/Japanese citizens just keep both passports. However, since the Japanese government does not recognize dual citizenship, these dual citizens cannot require foreign consular protection while in Japan.

  • Robert Flynn says:

    As usual, the dual nationality in Japan discussion seems to breed a huge amount of misinformation, which can be seen in a few of the posts above. I suggest to _everyone_ who wants to weigh in on this kind of discussion (and most especially the people who say you “automatically” lose one of your citizenships if you do this, that or the other) to go and read William Wetherall’s excellent website. If you can find things he says that are wrong, that’s cool, go ahead and correct them, but please make it look as if you know what you’re talking about as much as he makes it look like he knows what he’s talking about. I haven’t seen anyone come even close to covering it as well as Wetherall does.

    Here’s dual nationality in a nutshell:

    A child with a Japanese parent can legally hold dual nationality up to adulthood – this is _fully_ recognized by the Japanese authorities.

    On reaching adulthood, such a dual national is legally obliged in Japan to make a declaration of choice (actually, of _intent_ to choose). No problem, go ahead and declare. The dual national is now compliant with some law or other.

    The harmless bit of paper has no legal bearing on a person’s Japanese or other nationality. The Japanese authorities do not take away Japanese nationality from Japanese nationals, and (as your commonsense should tell you) they have no power at all to tamper with the dual national’s other nationality.

    The only way a dual national loses Japanese nationality is by volunteering to renounce it, which is a formal process that no one in their right mind should allow themselves to be talked into by any Japanese authority figure (police, immigration official, city official etc). As long as the dual national remembers this, they’re untouchable.

    There are many thousands of adult dual nationals with Japanese nationality. Find me _one_ example of a person who was stripped of the Japanese component of their dual nationality on the basis of non-recognition.

  • @Piglet

    Even if dual citizenship is recognized by a country, you are never entitled to consular protection in a country of which you are a citizen.

  • Excellent post by Robert Flynn. I’d advise anyone to scroll up and read it again. To comment on the main topic of discussion (the bureaucrat’s attitude,) please allow me to say I don’t find any outrage to be had in the incident that is documented here.

    I also have two children who have been registered in the same way. The law itself, which puts my Japanese as the only possible head of the family is silly and should be changed. But the bureaucrat’s opinion of nationality doesn’t change the situation one way or another, does it? He can call my kids strictly Japanese with a bullhorn on top of a black bus, for all I care. I know that it’s just a paper formality.

    Family law needs to be revamped completely. Japan is long overdo for it. I’ll sign a petition to support that.

    Regarding dual-nationality — as Robert wrote above, it’s a non issue when registering your children. They will have full rights as Japanese and whatever nationality they have outside of Japan as well. Even after adulthood, just signing the ‘intent’ form doesn’t relinquish their other nationalities.

    My wife even presented both passports to the immigration official at Narita. He remarked, “Dual nationality? Ok. Let me process that for you…Ok. All done.” She then renewed her Japanese passport 2 months later without a hitch. Maybe there’s something we’re missing, or some problem to come in the future, but I’m not seeing it.

    A non-issue in my mind.

  • Robert Flynn wrote.
    As usual, the dual nationality in Japan discussion seems to breed a huge amount of misinformation,

    I don’t know which thread on which site you are reading, but I can’t find much ‘misinformation’ on this thread. I would go as far as to say that because most of the information given on this site is first hand, it’s pretty much spot on, including the parts where people, who were not born with Japanese nationality, have to jump through even smaller loops in making that transition to Japanese nationality since Debito’s day.

    Please feel free to show examples of misinformation on this thread, I am very interested.
    There are gentler ways to promote other sites than belittle the contributions of others on this site.

  • Robert Flynn says:

    “Please feel free to show examples of misinformation on this thread, I am very interested.
    There are gentler ways to promote other sites than belittle the contributions of others on this site.”

    It’s not that I intend to “promote” another site over this one – it just happens to be the one that has the most detailed (and least emotional) information I’ve seen anywhere on the dual nationality question in Japan. Nor is it my intention, I think you would agree, to single out any individual commenter and belittle them. If you happen to view my comment as belittlement in a general sense, so be it. However, every time I’ve seen this DN question discussed (including on this website on other occasions), I’ve seen incorrect comments from people who clearly aren’t aware of the real situation – especially concerning that dreaded day when the dual national becomes an adult and has to “give up” one of their citizenships.

    Some of the posts here are fine – Piglet for example, who I happened to post directly below.

    As you have requested examples of misinformation, I will simply cut and paste some wrong statements from above, without comment (except the last one, which my experience contradicts) or identification of who posted them. In the interest of fairness, I’ll correct one of my own comments, which was badly expressed: instead of saying a dual national should declare a choice of nationality – which might look as if I implied they can just choose either one – obviously what they need to do is declare that they choose Japanese nationality (but that should be a no-brainer).


    “So, yes, basically everybody is having it dual until the age of adulthood. But if some POS government official suddenly decides that your kid has to lose his or her Japanese citizenship because he or she has another one, that official will probably file the case to the Ministry of Justice and they will take the Japanese one away.”

    “As far as the city employees go, most are asses, as are any government employee in any country. Its impossible to hold them accountable, as they got the juice and can mess with you even though we are collectively paying their worthless ass.”

    “What you should have done is to get her British nationality first based on her birth certificate, and only after that register her at the city office.”

    “Nationality law is very vague. In principal, nobody can have dual nationality here in Japan.”

    “On the matter of names, the UK does not allow parents to register a British-Japanese child with anything other than their romanised Japanese first name unless it is a “clear Anglicisation” of that name – though they don’t mind them having different surnames!”

    [Concerning this last statement: not in my experience. I was told very clearly by the British Embassy here, and I have email correspondence on this, that I can register my child with them using different names from the child’s Japanese names. This applies to both forename and surname, as long as my wife provides a letter of agreement. The English name I have in mind sounds nothing like the Japanese names].

  • @Robert Flynn
    “I have email correspondence on this, that I can register my child with them using different names from the child’s Japanese names. This applies to both forename and surname…”
    Interesting I also have email correspondence from the British Embassy, clearly saying that they will only enter the first name listed on the Japanese koseki (or city acceptance of birth registration certificate) on a Consular registration of birth certificate. The FCO confirmed with me that this was indeed their interpretation of UK registration of births law. You can add in as many middle names as you like and register either the mother’s or father’s surname, or a hyphenated version of both surnames – these require a letter of name confirmation signed by both parents (form letter is available for download from their website). I eventually found a way round the first name difference in the end, but it technically involved a name change and required documentation that was difficult to obtain and even then I had to make a statutory declaration in front of the vice consul. After all my hassle, I am intrigued that they have told you something different.

    From the embassy website “Please note that while you can add a middle name, register with a clear Anglicisation of the Japanese name, and register your child under the surname of the British parent or a double-barelled family name, you cannot change the order of the forenames, or give your child a different first name to that shown on the Japanese birth certificate.”

    I hope things have changed in the last few months as I couldn’t understand the logic behind these rules.

  • Robert Flynn says:

    “I eventually found a way round the first name difference in the end, but it technically involved a name change and required documentation that was difficult to obtain and even then I had to make a statutory declaration in front of the vice consul. After all my hassle, I am intrigued that they have told you something different.”

    Me too, now that you say that, and as I haven’t done it yet, I can’t confirm that it can be done. However, I was very careful and specific in my questions to the Embassy, as their website seemed to say only the surname can differ. They even called me back to talk about it, and there was really no room for ambiguity or misunderstanding, either in our conversation or the emails. But the emails are on my work computer, so not accessible to me at the moment.

  • In my opinion, your wife made a mistake not to deal with these bureaucrats in a well informed fashion. Article 117 from the civil code allows to change the name for the wife/husband and to have a double foreigner-Japanese name. No need to ask to these people about double nationality, it has nothing to do with them.

  • Me Myself says:

    This is an old topic by now and I am sure nobody is reading, but I will tell anyways the best way to deal with bureaucrats that are uniformed or just plain wrong.
    Write a letter to his boss and to the boss’s boss. Make sure YOU have your facts correct. Write what the problem was in a concise and polite manner. Tell what you need done to correct the problem.
    In close to 20 years of dealing with Japanese bureaucrats, I have found (in my experience at least) that public servants fear most being asked by their boss “how did you solve that problem” and not being able to give an answer. If the boss is in “fear” of his boss asking how the problem was solved, he will most likely put the pressure on the low man on the totem pole to fix his problem. This method has worked with the post office (before privatization) and the police (a visit to my home to apologize for saying I have to have my passport on me at all times even if I have a “gaijin card”).
    Of course, this only works to your benefit if you are in the right to start with. Again, get your FACTS straight before writing the letter.

  • Its a good story. It is very different from my own experience where everyone was bending over backwards for me. None of my kids have a Japanese name and I admit it was a struggle to fit in all of the middle names but that just makes the token bureaucrat laugh with delight watching me squeeze it in.

    They will have to choose Japanese nationality at 20 but the guy said that that doesnt mean they renounce other nationalities you just become Japanese only. Dont tell them you still have your British passport and you are cool. After all according to the embassy you NEVER can lose your British passport unless you deliberately sign it away. In which case you can always “claim it back”

    The Koseki and Honseki I try not to worry about. I know I own the land and the house and thats all that matters.

  • Robert Flynn says:

    “After all according to the embassy you NEVER can lose your British passport unless you deliberately sign it away.”

    I don’t even believe it’s necessary to hide dual nationality: Wetherall advises (and it rings true to me) that dual nationals should always answer questions from officials on the subject truthfully. The key point: it’s not illegal for an adult Japanese citizen to be a dual national. What dual citizens need to do is be very organized when they travel – entering the wrong country on the wrong passport is going to cause difficulties. A Japanese dual citizen should not use their British passport to enter or leave Japan, in other words.

    The worst thing a dual national could do is to voluntarily sign away their _Japanese_ citizenship. Whether this actually happens after threats, deception, or coercion from officials isn’t clear, though I’ve read some (somewhat doubtful) anecdotes to that effect. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to make the decision, and once they submit that paper, they’re doing something irrevocable. Good enough reason not to do it, and for all dual nationals to really know their rights.

    As for the British rules on registering names, I no longer have the emails that covered that – they’re gone for good. So I’ll have a definitive answer once I get around to registering my child. Yes I should have kept copies, but once I’d satisfied myself that I could do it the way I hoped, I didn’t think much more about it.

  • Kyuushuujin says:

    I’m surprised to write about all the trouble you seemed to have. I had none when registering my children in Japan. Polite people at the SHIYAKUSHO helped me with everything. They even certified for me that I personally signed the application of my daughter’s and my German passport. Fortunately the rules had changed on the German side, so we had to go all the way to the consulate in Fukuoka to apply for my son’s German citizenship.

    Nobody said anything about my children not being allowed to have another citizenship. The only paper I had to sign was that I would refrain from getting a third non-related citizenship for them. But I am not sure whether that wasn’t a form the German authorities wanted me to sign. And the troublemaker was actually Germany because they needed nearly 16 months to certify that my daughter could claim the German citizenship for her.

    The only thing our SHIYAKUSHO didn’t accept was a double name out of whatever reason. I wonder sometimes whether it was because both names were written in Kanji and not Roman letters. Or whether it was a mistake on behalf of that young female public worker. Well, anyway, we made it into one name, and my daughter seems to be happy with it.

    What do you mean by “footnoting” in the KOUSEKI? It also states in full-Japanese KOUSEKI no more than XY, first/second… son of A and B, married to CD with children E, F, G. And since I was listed under my maiden name, they later added the comment that the name of the wife had been changed. If foreign men were treated as “MUKOIRI”, I’d be surprised if they weren’t listed in the same way. X, first daughter of Y&Z married to Gaijin G.

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