Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)


Hello Blog. Something interesting here. Friend passed on a link to a blog post as follows:

Hello. I am really down so I hope to get some help here. My boyfriend is japanese and I am german. We met in Japan ( working holiday…)and want to merry next year, because we are really sure about our love. The big problem we have is his job. He is a policeman. Policemen in Japan have to report their girlfriends when they become serious about their partnership. So my boyfreind reported me. After that we really had a lot of problems, because his organisation said that he can not have a relation with a foreign women. If he will go on with me, he will never get a promotion again and they will bully him at work. Yeah, that’s what they told him. The reason they gave us is to protect the Japanese Police Organitation and that after our marrigae is will be difficult to stop other policemen to merry with foreign women. For me it is simply racism! How could I be dangerous to the Police? I mean I am just a young women who wants to merry with love. What can we do? Of course my boyfriend thougth about chaning his job, but in this case they will get what they want. And there will be the same stupid old mind and discrimination in the Japanese Police like always. It should not be like that. Can`t we do anything against it? Is racism and discrimination really tolerated in Japan?
Original post and more discussion at 30435

This of course might be a hoax (you have to be careful about non-verifiable postings like these, and if it turns out as such, I’ll delete this issue from my blog with apologies). Still, might be worth checking into. Not all that difficult. Place a call to the NPA and see. Or ask around. Anyone have any friends in the police forces in Japan or other countries? Anyone know if there is a problem with police marrying non-citizens here or elsewhere?

Watch this space. I will add to this blog entry directly if there is something blogworthy. Debito in Sapporo


REPLY: Nov 14, 2006, from The Community mailing list:

Apparently there is no bar whatsoever to police marrying foreigners. I have it on authority from a member of Tokyo Metropolitan Police who says there are 5 officers she knows of who are married to foreigners. If this girl’s boyfriend was threatened with bullying over a matter which is not a case of breaking rules, he should report whoever made the comments to an appropriate body.

Nov 14, 2006
I am married to a member of JASDF but he had to change his job when
we met because he was in a “sensitive” field at the time. It was
tough for him as he loved what he had been doing and had to switch to
something he does NOT love. He also has a friend who quit JASDF to
marry his Chinese girlfriend. I don`t think it`s policy for all jobs
within the Force but it definitely happens sometimes.


UPDATE:  A few more related articles have come out since this blog entry was written:

J MSDF demoting military officers with NJ spouses (UPDATED)

Also related
The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community

11 comments on “Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)

    Looks like I stand corrected. Good.
    Courtesy of Hidesato:

    Shinto keeps Aussie grounded
    Caitlin Stronell
    DAILY YOMIURI (Dec. 1, 2005)
    By Ayako Hirayama. Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

    For years, Caitlin Stronell did not have a high opinion of Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion. In fact, she regarded it as an evil that fostered xenophobic imperialism and eventually dragged Japan into World War II.

    But a chance meeting and a visit to a shrine not only caused her to change her impression of the religion, she took it a step further.

    She became a Shinto priest.

    Stronell is one of six priests at Asakawa Konpira Daigongen, a small shrine at the top of a mountain in Hachioji, western Tokyo. Wearing a ceremonial robe and hakama skirt, the 38-year-old Australian attends a regular Shinto ritual at the shrine every month and at times accompanies senior priests to help them preside over wedding, funeral and other ceremonies.

    But that is not her full-time job. While not working as a Shinto priest, or “kannushi,” she works as a magazine editor, a university lecturer and an active member of nongovernmental organizations. With all these activities, her life often becomes hectic. This is where Shinto plays a significant role in her life.

    “It’s really important and has kept me sane,” Stronell said of the religion. “If you’re an activist, it’s very easy to get completely drawn into your topic. And you can become completely disconnected from yourself. I think it’s a very dangerous thing and it happens to a lot of activists. For me, too, it’s very easy to get totally caught up in the issue or activity.”

    “For me, Shintoism is a spiritual base,” she said.

    Her discovery of the spiritual refuge came in 2002 when she participated in a five-day training program for aspiring Shinto priests. Once a year in May, the main Konpira shrine–commonly known as Konpirasan–in Kagawa Prefecture holds the program in which participants learn the religion’s history and beliefs as well as practical matters such as how to perform various Shinto rites.

    Along with about 40 people sent from nationwide shrines of Konpira–a Shinto sect that enshrines a guardian deity of seafarers–Stronell spent a well-regulated five days at the shrine, during which she got up at dawn and lights-out was at 10 p.m. No telephones, television or computers were permitted during the training.

    Stronell said the experience was the first step back to nature. “In this age of stress and busy schedules, when many people live in cities, it’s easy to forget that we are actually part of the natural environment, not simply its conquerors,” she later wrote in her article published in British monthly magazine New Internationalist.

    Before she started visiting the shrine, Stronell had never thought about becoming a Shinto priest, actually despising the former state religion of Japan as right-wing propaganda used by people keen to spread patriotic militarism.

    But her view changed after meeting a World War II veteran who blamed militarists for using Shinto to brainwash people.

    Stronell recalled that the elderly man was the one who taught her the truth about Shinto. Stronell said she learned from him that Shinto was “a celebration of life, of all forms of life and the place of human beings in nature.”

    “I remembered his hands were shaking with anger when he was talking about his experience of watching his friends dying for the Emperor,” she said. “But he himself became a Shinto priest after the war, and I thought Shinto is perhaps different from what I thought.”

    Initially, she was drawn to the Konpira shrine when she was a Keio University student researching the environmental movement in Japan. She met with a group of people opposing a development project that posed a threat to the shrine and its environs. The veteran was among them.

    The shrine was a symbolic meeting place for the protesters, some of whom were foreigners living in the vicinity. Despite repeated harassment by gangs and other parties supporting the development, the protesters eventually brought the project to a halt.

    Their tradition of gathering at the shrine continues even now in the form of a picnic on the first Sunday of every month. Stronell is a regular. She said the way the shrine became a center for the community also inspired her to become a Shinto priest.

    At the shrine, there was already a foreign priest, although her bid to obtain a kannushi license caused controversy among shrine authorities, said Tatsuo Hitomi, a Tokyo metropolitan government official who represents the Hachioji shrine. The authorities finally recognized her as a priest, making the path easier for Stronell. The two are currently the sect’s only qualified priests without Japanese nationality.

    “Shinto, which is centered on the worship of nature, has universal aspects,” Hitomi said. “Regardless of nationality, worshippers are connected through nature…So anyone can worship at the shrine.”

    Such tolerance fascinated Stronell. She said she found it interesting that Shinto coexists in harmony with Buddhism in Japan, pointing out that the Konpira shrine has a Shinto altar along with a Buddha statue inside, and a Buddhist priest sometimes visits for ceremonies.

    “I’m comfortable becoming a kannushi because I don’t think it denies anything else,” said Stronell, who went to a Christian school.

    Mingling with locals, Stronell’s life in Japan seems to be going well. But the Melbourne native had no interest in coming to Japan until she was sent to Tochigi Prefecture on a yearlong exchange program in 1984.

    The then 17-year-old high school student, who wanted to go to Germany, did not have any high expectations for the country, but enjoyed learning about a new culture, she said.

    The pleasant memory later led her to return to Japan. In 1990, she finished her undergraduate study on Japanese and politics. At that time, Australia was in recession and the jobless rate was high. Instead of finding a job there, she sought employment in Japan and was soon hired by Oki Electric Industry Co., where she worked for three years selling fax machines to Scandinavia.

    After leaving the company, she entered Keio in 1994 for her master’s degree, once again majoring in politics. For most of her childhood, she had dreamed of becoming prime minister, she said.

    “I did realize it was a silly idea and that it was never going to happen,” Stronell chuckled. “But I was interested in changing the world. I thought by being prime minister, I would be able to do that.”

    Her childhood dream did not come true, but she still continues pursuing her ambitious goal–to change the world. This reflects her jobs and volunteer activities.

    Stronell thinks globally and acts locally. She has worked on international issues, but her activities are mostly at the grassroots level.

    In 1997, she set up her own company, Intilincs Ltd., and signed a contract to distribute the New Internationalist magazine in Japan. The British publication covers global issues such as poverty and inequality. She herself writes stories focusing on Japan in both Japanese and English.

    Stronell also is a member of Tokyo-based NGO Japan HIV Center. In July, she served as a committee chairperson for the seventh International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific held in Kobe.

    Furthermore, as a member of the Citizens’ Association to Protect Wildlife of Mt. Takao, she is one of about 1,300 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against a highway project on the Metropolitan Inter City Expressway.

    People may think Stronell is a person of many interests. However, she said there is a connection in everything she does. “In my mind, they’re all part of the same thing. It’s very much changing the world,” she said.
    (Dec. 1, 2005)

  • Debito,

    On a similar note

    I once looked into a position as an Army linguist in the U.S. They were REALLY keen on me with my Japanese skills and all, but as soon as i mentioned my Japanese wife they went cold. Oh, sorrry. Army linguistics can’t have foreign national spouses. End of discussion.


  • Anonymous says:

    I was also looking for an answer regarding if a japanese men can marry a foreign woman.I have a friend and shes really inlove with his japanese boyfriend but when his boyfiend told her that he cant promise to marry her because of his work as a police officer.He also said that he cant do anything about it because he might lose his job.He also explains to her that there is a rule in the NPA that they cant marry a foreigner, a very sad thing but i wanna just ask if why and if theres any thing they can do about this matter.

    • AnonymousA says:

      Hi I wannna know what happened to yout friend? Are they still together. I having the same situation now, and we dont know what to do anymore. Thats my japanese fiance’s dream to be a police officer and I cant ask him to choose and support him in any way to be a good servant in his country but this is such a racist and my heart if broken because of this thing. Being born as non japanese is not a sin and why they have to drag him and feel bad about his private life and to love someone which is me as non japanese, then if he can be good officer in his job in the future.

  • Anonymous: That’s absolutely not true; the police officer is lying to keep his playboy lifestyle. Public servants in Japan marry foreigners all the time, and it is no big deal.

  • Bob, How do you know he’s lying? No one is saying marrying a foreigner is illegal or against regulations, just that his superiors told him he would be bullied and have promotion withheld if he did so. It’s not that hard to believe.

  • I wonder whether the assertion by the boyfriend might even be true.

    There are elements of the police that work closely with national security elements, I have understood, such as 警視庁公安部 and if the officer wished to ever join enterprises such as:

    I assume that there may be restrictions on foreigners.

    I think that as with the JSDF there are likely a few elements which have intelligence related duties, and the bulk that do not.

    As such, much would depend on his duties, and his desire for future duties.

    Moreover, given the police officer’s knowledge of foreign languages, he might be viewed as a likely recruit by elements that do engage in more sensitive activities.

    As such, I think one cannot exclude all possibility that there may be a restriction on foreign associations for some elements of the police.

    — A couple of articles here that warrant attention that have come out since this blog entry was created some years ago, which lend credibility to the assertion that NJ spouses may constitute a JSDF security breach:

    J MSDF demoting military officers with NJ spouses (UPDATED)

    Also related
    The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
    The blame game
    Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community

  • My brother in law is in the SDF, in a sensitive role, and we had some back and forth on the potential impact of our marriage on his career.

    In the end though, not our problem. Get over yourselves, racist Japanese institutions.

    Happily married for eight years, and his career is fine.

  • I say the guy is lying because he said “he might lose his job”. He also said there is a rule at the NPA that they can’t marry a foreigner. These are absolutely not true in my anecdotal experience with government workers I know who are married to foreigners.

    A quick google search reveals several chiebukuro-type Q&A’s that confirm this. Those who doubt me, read them:

    Google search for police, foreigner, marriage, top hit:
    (Says no problem)

    Hit #2 is a different question from someone previously involved in adultery.

    Hit #3: (Police can marry foreigners, but they might get less desirable posts).


  • Jim Di Griz says:


    Some of the links and anecdotes posted above are really interesting.

    I think that there is some real work to be done in regard to this issue.
    For example, to what extent is there a genuine (if racist) concern that SDF personnel and police officers married to an NJ may become a security leak vs. is there an unofficial policy to prevent such relationships (by promoting the fear of a security leak, bullying by colleagues, career limitations) in order to prevent those tasked with protecting the nation from humanizing NJ?

    As a rough and ready example; one of the primary roles of propaganda is to help de-humanize the enemy- it makes it easier to kill them (since we are usually conditioned by society to regard that as ‘murder’). I don’t like Dower, but he has an excellent analysis of both US anti-Japanese, and Japanese anti-everybody wartime propaganda in his book ‘War Without Mercy’. Maybe there is a formal or informal agenda to ensure that the SDF and J-police are constantly brainwashed by anti-NJ propaganda (maybe formal? NPA was behind ‘Gaijin Hanzai Ura’…). However, if you are a member of the SDF or J-police, and are married to a foreigner, have children together, and get along famously with your in-laws, there is a risk/chance that you can become immunized to the anti-NJ brain-washing of propaganda.

    I think that it is telling that the murderer in the case of the Nepalese man in Osaka in January said ‘I can’t believe I killed a gaijin’, and not ‘I can’t believe I killed someone’.


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