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Committee to Examine Dual Citizenship for Japanese

A recent article in the Sankei Shimbun notes that a committee has been set up by the LDP to review the Nationality Act with a view to amend Article 11 that states dual citizenship is unlawful.

The impetus for the committee comes not from a sudden burst of altruism, but from the fact that Nobel Prize winner Yoichiro Namba has American citizenship. (And that is embarrassing for Japan or denies it greatness somehow?)

Following the announcement of the Nobel Prize for physics, the Japanese press enthusiastically reported that 3 Japanese had won the prize while the rest of the world reported that 2 Japanese and 1 American had won. Read here for an overview.

I'd certainly consider taking Japanese nationality and I'm sure my wife would have fewer worries about leaving Japan knowing that she would able to keep her Japanese passport. Dual citizenship is not going to become a reality any time soon, but it promises to be an interesting debate to follow.

(h/t to MacGyver)

Original article

ノーベル賞が思わぬ余波! 国籍法改正を検討 自民法務部会 

2008.10.10 18:25







I actually met a young Canadian Japanese woman (yes, two passports) who feared being busted since she thought having a J. passport and another country's was illegal, to the extent of being criminal. But she really worried over nothing. Unlawful? Illegal? Not really. I know from personal experience (actually getting advice from the US embassy) that Japan is just strongly against their citizens having another passport. If you are a J. citizen with two passports and want to keep them both all your life then Japan can do nothing about it except not like it. But still best to keep it a bit private. But don't worry, there is no passport police looking to bust people for this.

How would the Japanese authorities know you hold a passport of another country as well as a Japanese passport?

Good news, this. It's time for Japan to be open to this kind of thing.

You have two passports. You live in the US. You don't need any kind of visa because you have both a US and a Japanese passport. When you go to the Japanese consulate to renew your Japanese passport, they will strip it. Happens frequently.

Leave Japan on a Japanese passport enter the US on a US passport. Leave the US on the US passport and enter Japan on a Japanese passport.

The Japanese immigration inspector looks at the Japanese passport and says, "where is your visa for the US?" This too happens all the time.

Not so good!

I'll have to decide which when it happens.

Ha Ha Ha!! I just wasted 5-10 seconds of your time!!!

(those questions at the bottom are tough!!)

This is kind of off topic, but also concerning passports.
Came back to Japan yesterday after a weeks holiday in Hawaii, no problems as usual with immigration/customs. Got to the train station waiting for the Narita Express, when two uniformed police who announced themselves as "we are Japanese Police" requested to see my passport, as well as the only other whitey on the platform. (Co-incidentally he was an Aussie too) They wrote down some details, then gave back the passports.
The officers didnt request to see any of the Japanese travellers passports (or the chinese there either). Co-incidence? Anyone else had a similar experience?
I reckon if I eventually qualify for a Japanese passport it would be pretty satisfying to whip it out in such situations...

At least you kept your front teeth

"You have two passports. You live in the US. You don't need any kind of visa because you have both a US and a Japanese passport. When you go to the Japanese consulate to renew your Japanese passport, they will strip it. Happens frequently."

In America in this situation I would keep my mouth extra tightly shut about if they start asking why there is no visa stamp on my J. passport if I were in that situation. On the America side they don't care how many passports you have so there is nothing the American authorities will do. But if they (J. consulate) start suspecting something and you don't say squat then what can they do? Can they actually take away your J. passport and perhaps your citizenship based on that? Don't you have to make declarations in writing, or something? One of my private students around 70 has a son in his late 30's living in USA but still has both citizenships without any problems (or so I heard). Correct me if I'm wrong but I assume in that situation the J. consulates 'advise' to choose one passport/citizenship on the spot as a 'requirement' and so the logical choice is to give up the Japanese one since you are living in USA and they have all the paperwork, etc to get started on that process. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong because I'm assuming.

"Leave Japan on a Japanese passport enter the US on a US passport. Leave the US on the US passport and enter Japan on a Japanese passport.
The Japanese immigration inspector looks at the Japanese passport and says, "where is your visa for the US?" This too happens all the time."

Would you have a basic right to remain silent about it and not give an answer or say you will not answer? Now you are entering Japan through immigration so the situation is much different. But what then? And if they strongly suspect you have a second passport or even legally force you to reveal it then what can they really do to you? I guess they would say you 'have to' choose. You say 'OK' then you go home and get on with it and blow the whole thing off...

Again the above two examples show the J. government does not approve of their citizens having other passports for a lifetime but I still hope for confirmed stories of people really getting in REAL trouble.

According to the American consulate/embassy in Japan the friendly advice for US citizens who carry J. passports who want to remain that way for their lifetime is just ignore the requests from the J. govt. to choose one passport.

Yeah, it's great.
Now it'll take at least a generation for them to figure out if it's a good thing or a bad thing.
Ever notice how change is embraced so warmly here? Like a glacier sliding uphill.

Im too proud an aussie to start wanting japanese citizenship but my 1yr old son is half japanese and if the government can wake up to itself and realise its elite people will stop denouncing their japanese citizenship if they can have dual nationality (if i were nanbu i would have chosen america too), then in 19years he wont have to make a permanent choice about his nationality.

As for the secret passport stuff, i had never thought that hard about it but its tempting to have a crack at getting one myself now (mind you japan will probably take credit if i ever become famous haha)

lets hope they can do it for this generation

and on a tangent wtf is going on with this government? does it want to stay in power or is it hoping that by playing it cool like before, japanese people (and others with secret passports) will naturally vote for them next election?

and Aso's (PM) head reminds me of the T1000... why?

The British Embassy in Tokyo makes it very clear that if you need to renounce your UK citizenship in order to gain full Japanese citizenship you will be permitted to renew your UK nationality again afterwards. They give you one 'free' chance to do this. Subsequent renewals are at the discretion of the British Home Secretary.

When re-applying to become a UK national they won't require you to relinquish your Japanese passport - because UK law allows for dual nationality - even with a country that doesn't reciprocate that agreement.

In other words it's practically impossible to 'stop' being a British citizen - not without a lot of vodka and a bottle of pills.

(BTW I acknowledge that the term 'British citizen' is perhaps inaccurate - 'British subject' would be better - but you need to be UKlander to understand the difference anyway - so WTF).

You are absolutely right. You must therefore only renew your passport in Japan. Also, we now have two immigration lines. The first will give you entry, and the second one who asks to see your bags will ask you why there is no stamp. Admitting to overstay in a country is the way to go. Or, what you do is fly to a third country, then fly from there to Japan. For example, you become a permanent resident in a third country by paying for it, and fly there first before going to Japan. When you return to the country of your other citizenship, enter that country on that country's passport. This way, no record shows on your other country's passport. To the Japanese immigration authority, you have permanent residency in that third country, will see that card, and will not ask further. The other citizenship will not be discovered.

I think proposing that Japan extend dual citizenship to those who are fully Japanese ethnically would be the practical way to get them to start considering it. I am not racist or anything, but it might be essential to get them to accept this idea in stages, beginning with the Issei immigrants who are bona fide Japanese. Allowing naturalized non ethnic Japanese citizens to keep their Japanese passports holding their other contry's citizenship might be last on the list. We have to reember, we are not dealing with Canada here. Japanese mindset has to be cracked in stages.

Hello, I would like to say that when I arrived at the Kansai Airport from Vancouver, I was busted for having dual citizenship this November. This happened when the second immigration officer who inspects your baggage after you were given the Kikoku stamp (Japanese citizens do not get the landing permission that I now get on my foreign passport). They asked me how I stayed for 2 years in Canada without a visa. When they checked my baggage and found my Canadian passport, which has an IC chip imbedded, they took me to a small room where two senior immigration officers made me choose on the spot which passport I wish to keep. I told them that I will keep my Canadian passport, and my Japanese passport was confiscated from me. I was given a Kokuseki ridatsu todoke, and lost my Japanese nationality, the country of my birth, even though I naturalized as a Canadian citizen when I was only a minor.

E. Honda (not verified) on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 16:35.
"I think proposing that Japan extend dual citizenship to those who are fully Japanese ethnically would be the practical way to get them to start considering it."

I see your thinking, E.Honda. But how could you ensure they were "fully ethnic Japanese"? What if, several generations ago, there was a korean or chinese ancestor, or an ancestor they couldnt verify as Japanese? Therefore, not a pure-blood Japanese? How far back would the test of pureness go? Jomon era?

You should have handed them your Canadian passport, which you could have re-applied for, at a later date.

Never mind. You were put on the spot, and you completely cracked under the pressure. No shame in that.

The root of the thinking you are pointing out all goes back to ethnic pride, wanting to believe their ethnic group is special etc. In reality, we ALL of us come from a recent common ancestor (in biological time) and people have always mixed more than we think. This will piss the PC people off, but I think the whole idea of pride (or shame) in what your ethnic group has done is a bunch of crap. Unless you did it personally, you should be able to take no more pride in the accomplishments of what someone in any ethnic etc. group did any more than anyone else.

The original article states they are reviewing the modification of Article 11 Nationality laws, not the Constitution.

This is important because like the U.S. Constitution, the Japanese Constitution, by design, is extremely difficult to amend and/or change.

Since its birth in the mid 20th century, the Japanese Constitution has not been successfully amended or changed even once, despite frequent proposals.

Bit of an old article, but thanks for pointing that error out! Ooops!


I have dual citizenship- Japanese and American. I was born in the US but grew up in Japan. I am now 18, and just renewed my Japanese passport this summer, so I am good for the next five years. Is there any way to keep my Japanese citizenship without giving up my US one? In five years, when I am 23, and when I have to renew my Japanese passport, what should I do?

I used to carry both an American and Japanese passport, but eventually just turned out using my American one when traveling. I realized that my Japanese passport is expired now, but I live in the US. (namely Hawaii)
Is there a way that I can 'safely' get a new Japanese passport from here? Do I go to the Consulate office? I heard that if I take a copy of my "Koseki-Touhon" it would work. Are there any tips on what to do/say, or not to do/say??

My bi-national kids are close to the age where according to Japanese law they will have to renounce their US citizenship to maintain Japanese citizenship.

Since all the security laws have tightened up and when you buy a plane ticket you have to provide your passport number and since it is against US law for a US citizen to leave or enter the US on a non-US passport and the passenger list is sent to the immigration authorities, has any bi-national had a problem with this?

I.e., suppose a person holding both passports is in the US and buys a ticket to fly to Japan. S/he must put the US passport number in by law. So then does s/he have to show the US passport to enter Japan? If going to Japan for a short visit, no problem, but what if s/he is going to stay over the tourist visa time limit or wants to live and work as a Japanese citizen for a while? Then if say after six months or a year, s/he wants to leave Japan to go back to the US, which passport number should be used when buying the plane ticket? If the ticket is bought under the Japanese passport, then will this person be violating US law (as his/her name will be on the manifest which goes to US Immigration as a Japanese national)?

How about if you teach your kids that they should play by the rules in society? They have had 20 years already to think about their choice. Now they should make it and live with the consequences.

Herr Anonymous

"How about if you teach your kids that they should play by the rules in society?"

People like you make fine traffic wardens and gestapo officers. Keep up the good work.

I've been in the UK, on and off, for over a decade, and will be a British national in a few years. That means, according to the Japanese Citizenship Act, I'll automatically become non-Japanese, hence my passport automatically void. I can continue to use it, but that is illegal according to the Japanese Passport Act. It seems I'll have to visit my home town as a foreigner! Japan will lose another materials engineer with a PhD, but I'm fed up with this sort of backward nonsense and have passed the point of giving any toss.

I've been living for around three years in Japan, with a good job, am married with a Japanese wife, who's expecting a child soon.

Bottom line - I like it here and would like to stay longer... But then the fact that the country still considers you a foreigner (with visa renewals / or reentry permit renewals in case of PR) is annoying.

It would be great to be able to adopt the nationality without having to give up my (2) European passports.

Korea managed to reform their nationality law recently, enabling this sort of thing -

Why can't Japan change too? What happened to Taro Kono and the LDP committee to review dual citizenship?

I don't want to jeopardise my future here by naturalising (obviously not giving up my exisiting nationality) and then getting caught at the airport like Anonymous@Kansai.

Sometimes it is politically safer to hold two passports and use the one passport to visit a certain set of countries, and the other passport when visiting a second set of countries.

I want to travel to Cuba and the USA. I don't want the USA to know that I've been to Cuba. Can I get a second Japanese passport issued because of this, even though I'm an ordinary citizen (not diplomat, not military, and definitely not royal!)

You will not need a second passport to travel to Cuba. Cuban customs/immigration do not stamp your passport, they stamp a card which they place in your passport and remove when you leave.

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