National / Politics

Nippon Ishin submits bill to bar people with dual nationality from running for Diet

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

The conservative party Nippon Ishin no Kai submitted a bill to the Upper House on Tuesday that would ban people with dual citizenship from serving in the Diet.

The move is the latest in the backlash against newly elected Democratic Party President Renho, who despite her initial denial was found to have both Taiwanese and Japanese nationalities while campaigning in the party’s leadership election earlier this month.

On Friday, Renho announced she had succeeded in relinquishing her Taiwanese citizenship.

It remains unclear, however, how likely it is that the porposed amendment to the Public Offices Election Law will come up for Diet debate, let alone pass. Nippon Ishin no Kai is the third-largest opposition party. It holds only a combined 27 seats in the Diet.

The envisaged change seeks to deprive Japanese citizens who also hold foreign citizenship — a case exemplified by Renho — of the right to run for a Diet seat.

Explaining the rationale behind the proposed legislation, party officials said Monday that those entrusted with the lives and assets of the Japanese people should be as free from foreign interests as possible.

“We have no intention of impugning dual citizenship per se,” said Hitoshi Asada, the party’s policy chief. “But those who are — or are about to be — in the position to exert top public authority should at least meet the condition that they are Japanese and void of any foreign nationality.”

The party will eventually submit a package of other amendments seeking to bar people with dual citizenship from working for entities in charge of particularly sensitive information, such as the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The tightened rules for public servants at such entities would be on par with those of Foreign Ministry officials, including diplomats, who are currently banned by law from possessing foreign nationality.

In a separate move, an even smaller conservative party, Nihon no Kokoro wo Taisetsu ni suru To (Party for Japanese Kokoro) submitted a statement to the Upper House on Monday questioning the failure to prohibit people with dual citizenship from becoming lawmakers.

“Lawmakers, who represent the Japanese public, need to deal with matters such as territorial disputes in which Japan’s national interest frequently conflicts with that of other countries. Such a profession should exclusively be open to people who only have Japanese nationality,” the statement, penned by party member Masashi Nakano, said.

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