Need for revision of Nationality Law (dual-citizenship and naturalization)
Children with dual-citizenship . . .
The world has become a much smaller place in the last fifty years. The practices of cultural tolerance and coexistence have replaced isolationism, and (not surprisingly) a proliferation of international marriages have followed suit. Current dual-citizenship laws in Japan require children of one Japanese parent and one foreign parent to make a declaration of choice of nationality upon reaching 22 years of age. Many of these children of international couples are now coming of age, and their numbers will only increase.
Being forced to choose is as bad as no choice at all.
We feel that forcing a person of dual lineage to 'renounce' the nationality of one parent in favor of the other is not only a violation of human and civil rights, it's also immoral as well. No one should be pressured, coerced or otherwise made to turn their back on a heritage that is a part of their makeup for purely bureaucratic reasons.
Naturalization procedures . . .
Additionally, although we fully understand that procedures must be followed and requirements met when qualifying individuals for naturalization, those requisites should not exceed the scope of reasonableness and sensibility. For example, asking an applicant to present his or her foreign parents' birth certificates and marriage license (even if one or both of them are deceased) can often be an over-burdensome and unreasonable request. And what is the applicant to do if a particular document never existed to begin with,such as is the case in India, where a written marriage license is generally not produced to prove the legal union?
It's time for change . . .
The government must realize that Japan's changing demographics dictate a significant revision of the Nationality Law. Forcing people into an 'all-or-nothing, either-or' decision to accept Japanese nationality, and making the process of naturalization a maze so difficult as to be abjectly discouraging, do not foster an atmosphere of welcome and belonging. With its declining population and aging society, instead of giving them reason to turn away, the country should use all means at its disposal to attract and keep the most important of all the earth's natural resources - our people.
- Originally from Germany, but having experienced work life in diverse countries (UK, CH, HK), I am now based in Tokyo. My Japanese wife recently gave birth to a daughter, and I believe that the international exposure will give her many opportunities here in Japan. However, I am concerned she might be forced to give up one citizenship due to Japan's Nationality Law. I strongly believe this stance is robbing Japan a lot of potential, as people might choose to renounce and render their future in this country very uncertain. -A.B., Software Engineer [Tokyo]
- As the world shrinks, allowing people to have duality is a way to foster and encourage closer ties. I love Japan as much as I love my home country, maybe more. -Kif Saint, English Teacher [Tokyo]
- As the father of two bi-national (Japanese/American)children, I feel it is totally unfair and xenophobic to require my children to "choose sides" for their nationality when they are equally both. These children are not "half" and lesser than anyone else. In fact, they are "double" and have twice as much to offer to the future of Japan. -Randall, Teacher [Fukuoka]
- It should be recognized for children of mixed couples. They should not have to choose. -A.S.C., [Tokyo]
- ALL people have the NATURAL BORN RIGHT to become dual, or triple, or whatever, citizens of whatever country to which they have legal connections. Forcing people to choose a nationality once they reach the age of 22 is nonsensical, particularly in this age of multiculturalism and multilingualism. -Name withheld, [Nara]
- Given Japan's dire problems associated with population decline, dual-citizenship should be explored as a way to encourage commitments from foreigners wishing to contribute to this country. It would also help out Japanese who are forced to burn their bridges or hide their dual-citizen status. -R.T., [Tokyo]
- Germany and South Korea have already revoked the one-citizenship rule. It is a stupid and outdated idea that one person can only belong to only one place. Bear in mind that Japanese people are already acquiring other citizenships and not disclosing that to the Japanese government. -Aly Rustom, Teacher [Saitama]
- I think choosing one over the other is unfair. The system needs to be more flexible for people with more than one nationality influencing their upbringing. I have three kids so I want them to have both nationalities' importance recognized. -Mathew, Teacher [Fukuoka]
- Japan is infringing on the human rights of children born to parents of different nationalities by forcing such children to choose the citizenship of only one parent. -Martin Lovatt, Teacher [Fukuoka]
- Many Japanese women end up suffering political exclusion and/or informal discrimination as a result of the current law. When they move abroad with their husbands, they are unable to fully participate in their host country, despite contributing economically to the society and raising their children there. Dual citizenship should be allowed as a matter of gender equality as each parent should have the right to pass on their individual citizenship rights to their children. If the Japanese government wishes to restrict voting rights to the country of residence, that would be acceptable, but asking Japanese citizens, disproportionately women, to give up their rights to political membership in Japan in order to enjoy full citizenship abroad, for what is often an uncertain number of years, is unjust. Many women fear the possibility of divorce, and so do not access citizenship in the host country. Men are less often subjected to this predicament. As such, the current Japanese law denies Japanese women's right to pass on citizenship to their children and thereby exacts an informal, yet systemic form of discrimination against Japanese women marrying foreign men. -J.F.S., Researcher [Miyagi]