LDP panel mulls easing law on dual citizenship

Mixed couples' kids could have two nationalities

by Minoru Matsutani

Liberal Democratic Party member Taro Kono said Thursday he has submitted a proposal to an LDP panel he heads calling for the Nationality Law to be revised to allow offspring of mixed couples, one of whom being Japanese, to have more than one nationality.

The panel will scrutinize the proposal, but there is no time limit to formalize it as “this is not something that needs to be done anytime soon,” he said.

Under the current system, Japan, in principle, requires Japanese nationals who also hold citizenship in another country to choose one or the other before they turn 22.

However, there is no punishment for violators, and the Justice Ministry does not search for or even request people who publicly proclaim possession of multiple citizenship to choose one.

“The current law works unfavorably for honest people and those exposed to the media,” Kono said. “If we think about Japan’s future, we should establish a system as a nation to secure necessary human resources.”

The proposal calls for Japanese who hold other nationalities to report to local authorities. Those failing to do so would be subject to a fine and possible loss of their Japanese citizenship.

While the proposal allows for multiple nationalities, the government will not let Japanese hold nationalities of countries or regions that Japan does not recognize as nations, including North Korea.

Also under the proposal, foreigners would be able to obtain Japanese citizenship without giving up their original one. But the proposal does not say whether those who had had multiple nationalities and gave up one or more to retain their Japanese citizenship can regain other nationalities.

The proposal would also affect babies born in countries that grant nationality to those born there regardless of their parents’ nationalities, including the United States, Brazil and Australia.

Royalty, Diet members, Cabinet ministers, diplomats, certain members of the Self-Defense Forces and court judges can only hold Japanese nationality.

If holders of more than one nationality take such positions in other countries, they will lose their Japanese nationality, the proposal says.

To avoid granting citizenship to those with a limited connection to Japan, the proposal stipulates that those who have not lived in Japan for a total of 365 days until their 22nd birthday will lose their Japanese nationality.