Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad


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Hi Blog.  I just found this in my “drafts” folder, and I apologize for not getting to it sooner. has mentioned before how creative judicial interpretations of Japan’s Nationality Law Article 12

(which states, in toto: “A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947))

are a) systematically stripping children born to mixed-nationality couples of their Japanese citizenship simply for bureaucratic expedience (for if both parents were Japanese nationals, Article 12 did not apply); and b) effectively absolving Japanese men from taking responsibility for sowing their wild oats abroad (item 8).

Now according to the ruling reported to below, it looks like Article 12 now does apply even if both parents are Japanese nationals — you have three whole months to get registered, otherwise you clearly aren’t a real Japanese.  Except that in the case cited, the exclusionism is again being enforced on mudblood kids simply because their parents slipped up with proper procedure.

It remains unclear if a Japanese mother who gives birth overseas (and would hitherto automatically retain Japanese nationality for her child) and does not register her child would void the Japanese citizenship, but the intent of the interpretation below is basically to prevent dual nationality, not honor jus sanguinis ties under the law.  So this looks to be an affirmation and expansion of the 2012 Tokyo District Court case, a reversal of the 2008 Supreme Court case, moreover expanded to both parents regardless of nationality.

This is what can happen if you dare give birth outside of the motherland and legally acquire a suspicious second passport.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Top court backs repeal of Japanese nationality due to parents’ lapse abroad
Asahi Shinbun March 11, 2015 By TAKAAKI NISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer

The Supreme Court confirmed that authorities can revoke the Japanese nationality of children born outside Japan whose parents fail to submit the proper paperwork within three months of their babies’ births.

The top court’s ruling on March 10 said Article 12 of the Nationality Law, which defines the procedures to maintain Japanese nationality, does not violate the Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, 15 female and male children born in the Philippines to Japanese fathers married to Filipino mothers have lost their Japanese nationality. They had argued that the article was irrational and discriminatory against Japanese born abroad.

The Nationality Law stipulates that if either parent of a baby born outside Japan is a Japanese national, the child will automatically acquire Japanese nationality and can also obtain the nationality of the country of birth.

But the parents must submit a notification to a Japanese administrative institution within three months of the baby’s birth to maintain the Japanese nationality, according to Article 12 of the law.

In the top court’s first ruling on the constitutionality of the provision, Takehiko Otani, presiding justice of the court’s Third Petty Bench, said, “The legislative purpose (of Article 12) designed to avoid dual nationality is rational and constitutional.”

According to the plaintiffs, their Japanese nationality was revoked because their parents did not know about the provision and failed to submit the documents to Japanese authorities within the designated three-month period.

The Supreme Court said Article 12 is “not irrational nor discriminatory against people born overseas” because it gives the parents three months to submit the notification.

The top court also noted another provision in the law, which allows such children to obtain Japanese nationality before they reach 20 years old if they notify authorities that have a permanent address in Japan.


10 comments on “Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad

  • My wife is a Japanese national. We had two children in the US. Now, this was 20 years ago; so maybe it’s changed, but we had to fly to LA to register our kids at the Japanese consulate. Traveling with a near newborn, I wondered at the time what would happen if, due to the health of the baby or a lack of travel money parents were not able to make the trip to the embassy or consulate within the 3 month time-frame. You would think with circumstances being what they are there would be a sense that adding citizens would be a good thing, even if they are born overseas.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Clearly, this is a move to preserve the ‘purity’ of the Yamato ‘race’ in both body AND mind.

    Salary men on business trip knock-up Filipino, Chinese, Thai prostitutes? The clock is ticking! Gotta make it hard for those kids to be ‘Japanese’!
    Japanese woman dares to marry an NJ and live abroad? Well, let’s cut off that impure bloodline before they decide they want to move back to Japan and pollute the Yamato gene pool!
    Japanese couple living long-term overseas? Don’t want your ‘returnee’ kids coming back here and giving decent Yamato kids ‘funny gaijin ideas’, do we now!

    Illogical, unscientific concepts of racial and social ‘purity’ are more important than national survival.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    The Supreme Court said Article 12 is “not irrational nor discriminatory against people born overseas” because it gives the parents three months to submit the notification.

    Not being able to acquire the nationality of one’s ancestors is not discriminatory against people because, twenty years before reaching the age of majority, their parents missed the three-month window to register them?

  • This is just another excellent example of why Japan is becoming less significant on the world stage.
    The majority of “Japanese” born overseas are children born to one Japanese parent, and one NJ parent.
    This is an excellent mechanism to deny them access (rights) to Japan when they come of age.
    Japan has to stay “pure” – even if it is their undoing.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    This is terrible. Why do they think 90-day window gives a substantial amount of time to the couples trying to bear a child outside the Japanese soil (which is parent’s choice) while bi-racial kids technically have a 2-year window to determine their nationality after turning age 20(kid’s choice)?

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @ Loverilakkuma #7,

    Except that it would be an ‘anchor baby’ (detestable term) IF the child was born to non-Japanese parents in Japan, and IF Japanese law recognized that a child born in Japan was automatically Japanese.

    The ‘3 month’ law is different to the example of ‘anchor babies’ since;
    1. It only affects children born outside of Japan.
    2. One or both parents are legally Japanese.
    3. The same parents giving birth in Japan wouldn’t have a similar time limit.

    So, not really the same as ‘anchor babies’ at all.

  • How can they legally justify that an arbitrary three-month limit placed on people born outside Japan (and not those born inside the country) is logical regardless of its being constitutional?

    It says that it was ‘revoked’, but I wonder if this is one of those bureaucratic-discretion kinds of things where they would not pursue someone with two Japanese nationals as parents.

    I’ve totally lost any confidence I had that the judicial system here. Is there anyone who can make logical sense out of our laws.


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