Some points of Jun Hongo’s interesting Jan. 5 article, “A convenience in peace becomes matter of conflict in war,” may demand clarification. While providing insights into the extremes of this issue, few potential applicants for dual nationality in Japan would imagine themselves facing conscription, internment, or choosing sides in war. The most common cases are those of long-term overseas Japanese who wish to retain elements of their Japanese identity while assuming qualities of their adopted land, or those of mixed Japanese-non-Japanese parentage who must face the identity choice that comes with single nationality laws.
The simple fact is that thousands of Japanese hide another identity, as they secretly retain and use non-Japanese passports. Perhaps the more mundane cases of nations where dual nationality is common, such as in the European Union, are more pertinent for Japan at this time.
Concerns raised in the article about non-Japanese in positions of authority say more about bureaucratic paranoia. Non-British nationals serve in positions of authority in the British armed forces and local government. Their loyalties are based on their oaths, contracts and years of service. Their competence to fulfill duties is unaffected by birthplace or parental passports. With Japan’s declining population, such fickleness appears both irrational and debilitating.
Most of us have multiple identities and loyalties of varying levels. Few would challenge the loyalties of Irish, Italian and other communities to the United States, including the Japanese-American community. The denial of dual-nationality rights during wartime has merely served to reinforce the need to respect such rights in peacetime.
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