The Supreme Court has refused to grant Japanese citizenship to a child born out of wedlock to a foreign woman and a Japanese man on the grounds the father failed to acknowledge his paternity before the girl’s birth.

The No. 2 Petty Bench of the top court on Friday upheld a lower court’s ruling that rejected a request for citizenship for the 10-year-old; the girl is being brought up by her Filipino mother.

Five Supreme Court judges agreed that the nationality law, which restricts granting citizenship to illegitimate children, is constitutional.

“Citizenship should, where possible, be confirmed at the time of birth,” Justice Hiroharu Kitagawa said.

“And there are logical reasons for the restrictions not to grant Japanese citizenship to an illegitimate child with only postnatal filiation.”

According to the ruling, the child’s mother, Myra Barugo, came from the Philippines to Japan in 1983 but overstayed her visa and in June 1992 bore a daughter to the Japanese man, who was married.

Because the man did not acknowledge his paternity until after the birth, the girl was not granted Japanese nationality. She gained Philippine nationality at the time of her birth.

The plaintiff said in her suit that discrimination based on the timing of a birth and acknowledgment of paternity contravenes constitutional guarantees of equality and international human rights covenants.

Both the Osaka District Court and the Osaka High Court rejected the request, saying since a person whose paternity is acknowledged after birth can still acquire Japanese nationality through naturalization, the distinction made in the cases of illegitimate children is logical and constitutional.

A second daughter born to the man and Barugo has Japanese nationality because he acknowledged his paternity before the birth.

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