Couple held over paternity fraud

Fake birth certificate submitted for citizenship

Compiled From Staff Report, Kyodo

A Filipino woman and a Japanese man were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of submitting a false birth certificate for her son to acquire Japanese citizenship, the Metropolitan Police Department said Thursday.

Marissa Floures Ito, 31, unemployed, and Michio Uchino, 55, a ramen shop owner, are suspected of conspiring to submit a birth certificate that wrongfully states that Uchino is the father of Ito’s son to Ushiku City Hall, Ibaraki Prefecture, on April 21, the police said.

The arrest is the first of its kind since the Nationality Law was revised in January to allow children born out of wedlock to foreign women to obtain Japanese nationality if the Japanese father recognizes them as his.

Before the revision, only children whose Japanese father recognized them as his before birth were able to obtain Japanese nationality. The new law allows such recognition after birth.

The incident is certain to renew criticism from conservatives who had opposed the revision because of the possibility of fraud, as in this case.

Some lawmakers had argued a DNA test is necessary for father-child recognition. But in the end, the revised law did not include the obligation for such a test, partly to avoid the controversy of only requiring the test in cases involving foreigners.

The police allege Ito turned in a document asking the city to recognize her son as Uchino’s on June 2. On June 16, she allegedly went to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau and changed her residential status.

Her visa would have soon expired if she had not changed the status, the police said.

On Aug. 21, she is suspected of submitting an application for Japanese nationality for her son to the Mito Regional Legal Affairs Bureau in Ibaraki Prefecture.

She had become acquainted with Uchino via a mutual friend and gave him several hundred thousand yen as compensation, the police said. She had submitted a photo of Uchino, her son and herself to the legal bureau, they said.

The Nationality Law revision came after the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional last June a provision of the law that granted Japanese nationality to children born out of wedlock to a foreign mother only if the Japanese father recognized the children as theirs before birth.

Whether a DNA test should be applied to applicants was debated by lawmakers at length during the deliberations.

Ultimately, lawmakers decided that since the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to discriminate against children based on whether their parents are married, it would be further discrimination if the revised law required DNA tests.