Yomiuri: Nikkei defecting from DPRK are stateless, have trouble becoming J citizens


Hi Blog. Here’s another interesting angle to Japan’s funny nationality laws. First we get a person like Alberto Fujimori, who parachutes into Japan on the lam from international law, essentially claims asylum (leaping over the thousands of candidates waiting in line for years to naturalize or become refugees), does a runner to another country on another passport, and gets brought back to run in absentia in this current Japanese election as a candidate. All because of his Japanese blood.

Yet here we have a situation where people also have the same legitimate claim (Japanese blood) and are being denied citizenship anywhere, let alone Japan. All due to the politics of the region. Anyone find any consistency in Japan’s citizenship law application, please try to explain it to me.

Looking forward to this weekend’s election results. If Fujimori actually gets elected, I will, er, well, I don’t know what I will do. Perhaps be speechless for once. Debito in Sapporo


24 defectors from DPRK still stateless / Prejudice rife in catch-22 situation
The Yomiuri Shimbun Jun. 13, 2007

Courtesy Jeff Korpa

At least 24 defectors from North Korea living in Japan remain stateless, largely due to the lack of clear government guidelines on how to determine the nationalities of such defectors, it has been learned.

The statelessness of the 24 people also is a result of each local government having been left to its own devices regarding how to deal with the registration of the foreign defectors.

Observers have pointed out that the North Koreans face discrimination in finding employment and encounter difficulties earning a regular income as long as they remain stateless, hampering their efforts to become naturalized Japanese.

While the number of North Korean defectors living in Japan is rapidly increasing, the government has virtually no support system in place for them, they said. North Koreans have been defecting to Japan since the late 1990s. Many of them fled to China overland, before seeking shelter in the Japanese Consulate General in Shengyang, China.

The government permits Japanese wives of former pro-Pyongyang Korean residents of Japan and their descendants to live in Japan, as they are seen to have relatives here. Many pro-Pyongyang residents emigrated to North Korea in the resident repatriation project from 1959 to 1984. Under the scheme about 93,340 pro-Pyongyang residents in Japan, their Japanese wives and children left for North Korea.

By the end of last year, about 130 defectors were living in Japan, with nine people having entered the country this year, government sources said.

A support group for the defectors interviewed 82 defectors residing in Japan in February and confirmed 24 children and grandchildren of the Japanese wives remain stateless, the group’s official said.

Among the remaining 58 defectors, some Japanese wives reobtained Japanese nationality after they became naturalized citizens. Others gained Korean nationality and later changed to South Korean nationality in most cases.

In 1966, the Justice Ministry issued a notice to municipal governments to describe the nationality of North and South Koreans as Korean when they made their initial application for a foreign registration card. In a 1971 precedent, the nationality of those who were born on the Korean Peninsula stated on foreign registration cards was Korean.

The immigration authorities insist that every municipal government is supposed to follow this precedent. But some municipal government officials said such defectors are recognized as stateless as they do not have passports or any identification documents.

Under the current Nationality Law, Japanese wives of former pro-Pyongyang Korean residents can reobtain Japanese nationality easily, but their children and grandchildren face difficulties in naturalization unless they have sufficient income to support themselves.

(Jun. 13, 2007) ENDS

1 comment on “Yomiuri: Nikkei defecting from DPRK are stateless, have trouble becoming J citizens

  • By “Korean” what Japanese term are they referring to? コリア? That’s the only neutral term I know of, even though it’s pretty awful that they can’t come up with a better one…


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