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Dual Nationality, Foreign Names, Japanese Paperwork

Japan With Kids - Forums: Immigration/visas/re-entry permits/naturalization: Dual Nationality, Foreign Names, Japanese Paperwork
By Al on Monday, August 2, 2004 - 5:14 pm:

I'm a Canadian married to a Japanese and we are expecting our first baby soon. My wife took my name when we married and we are now trying to figure out what name to use for our baby both here and in Canada. I'm the last son in my family and she's the last daughter in hers therefore we bith want to keep our family names going. We have discussed having my family name on his passport in Canada and her family name on his here. Might be confusing but maybe easiest as well. If we decide to use her family name then she will need to change hers back. I don't mind that at all just trying to figure out what will be the best for the little guy. I don't feel like fighting with every ward office and bank I go into for the next 20 years here nor do I wish that on my son. I also am not crazy about the fact that he may be required to carry a gaijin card in his country of birth.
If there are any other Canucks out there with info related to this I would very much apprecitate the input or just personal experiences. Thanks.

By Jonathan Higgins on Monday, August 2, 2004 - 7:56 pm:

I'm not sure about the specific rules for Canada. But I expect they're probably not very different as those for UKlanders like me.

I think if your wife changed her name back it might be easiest. I know theyll be a lot of paperwork Ebut once its doneE Im assuming from your message that youre not paranoid about your son NOT having the same family name as you Eat least when hes living in Japan. So a Japanese name for Japan Ewith a Japanese passport. And a Canajun name for Canada Ewith a Canadian passport. At least until hes twenty years old Eand in practice probably for a lot longer too. My friends 35 year-old son still has a Japanese and an American passport.

For out son we chose a bilingual name ETomu. So he has a kanji name on my wifes family register (very important for men in Japan), but in the UK hes registered as Thomas Ewith my family name.

By Tara on Monday, August 2, 2004 - 10:11 pm:

My kids are American nationals, adopted from Ethiopia. On a surprising amount of paperwork (e.g., to get visas to enter not only Japan but every other country as well), we need to write down "aliases" that the kids have -- which in their case is their pre-adoptive names (different surnames).
It gets stickier than you would expect, believe me.

It also affects education enrollment records, etc. (ask any Zai-Nichi Korean about what they need to go through just to get the Name of Habitual Use read out at graduation -- been there, done that one too). If you are thinking of enrolling your child abroad at some point and looking to transfer credits back here (my kids were in Canada for 3 months, for example), I would recommend choosing one name and sticking with it. You can work around it, of course, but you might find yourself spending 15 hours doing the paperwork instead of 10 minutes.

With two passports, you would be able to carry both, and leave Canada on one and enter Japan on the other (somebody please correct me if I am wrong on this one). The Immigration officer in Japan, seeing no exit stamp from Canada in the Japanese passport, would be allowed to ask to see the passport by which you exited the previous country. Can you imagine explaining why you have two entirely different names on your passports?

Keep in mind that it is no big deal to change a person's name back home (Maryland, USA in my case, but probably very similar for you): you need one month of Public Notice ads in the newspapers so that any creditors, etc. have ample time to be alerted to your name change and two court appearances (usually) and bingo, you are done. Not so in Japan.

Just some random thoughts to put into the mix.

By Caroline on Monday, August 2, 2004 - 10:32 pm:

Hi Al, we are a Canadian couple with 2 kids. Both our kids were born in Japan. At the time of birth, parents are asked to fill out a birth certificate: you chose the name that you want. Unlike if you were in Canada, you are free to put the last name you want on your child's birth certificate, or both if you want. If you decide to use both last names, you do not need to hyphenate them as you would in Canada. This is what we did for our second child.

We made the mistake of only putting my husband's last name for our first child. This is problematic because a) our kids have different last names(!) and b) if I travel with them without my husband, I might be questioned as to why we bear different last names.

So, to solve the problem, I had my husband's name added to mine on my passport, which can easily be done at the Consulate.

Once you have registered the birth with the WARD, there is no going back. If you get your child his Certificate of Canadian Citizenship, there again, things cannot be modified unless you go for a legal name change (process varies between provinces). The process can be expensive (over 250$ in Quebec).

So I would suggest selecting your child's last name very carefully.

Our kids have 2 other nationalities, on account of me having triple nationality. When we registered our kids for French citizenship, only their father's last name was taken down (as the French only use ONE last name), whereas for Spanish citizenship, our kids had TWO last names (irrespective of the fact that we did not register them as such at the ward).

I think having two last names for Canadian citizenship and only one for Japanese citizenship is possible. As for the first name, that is really your choice, but it would make sense to stick to one name. Perhaps you could consult your ward office beforehand to avoid surprises once the child is born. The birh has to be registered quite quickly so it helps to be prepared.

All of this is quite confusing and perhaps overwhelming. If you have any questions, I'd be glad to help if I can (feel free to e-mail me). Good luck!

By Admin on Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 2:25 am:

The topic of how to name your kids and in what order to do the paperwork for multi-national kids after birth is also covered at: in the Immigration section.

I think I might be moving these posts over to that conversation.

By Steve K on Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - 11:28 am:

Hi, I'm Canadian and my wife is Japanese. My quick reply is to contact the Canadian embassy in Aoyama-itchome. Their Web site has a lot of details, and it includes a boilerplate for the letter that you've got to prepare if you want the name on the Canadian passport different from that on the Japanese one. But I recommend that you call them. They can provide more details by phone (even though it may be hard to get through to them since their terrible voicemail system is terrible).

Here's a longer answer. You said that your wife took your name after marriage. Did she also do the same when she registered your marriage in Japan? In other words, did she change her juminhyo? If she didn't, then you could easily and justifiably have different names. Your child could be named and registered under your wife's juminhyo (e.g., Hiromi Suzuki), and then you could fill out the paperwork to apply for your little one's Canadian citizenship with another name (e.g., Pat Hiromi Smith). The child would use the name registered with the juminhyo for all transactions and legal matters in Japan.

If, however, your wife has "dropped" her name from her juminhyo, then you probably have to use your last name (which may be advisable under many circumstances, according the posts from the other authors). I believe this is true (somebody correct me if this is wrong), because you would be the head of the family according to the ward office.

Good luck and congratulations, Steve

By Steve K on Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - 11:54 am:

Oops, please read "koseki" for all "juminhyo" above. Sorry. Also, I belive Caroline's post about foreign parent's being able to register any family name, but for practical purposes involving international travel, this means the father's and/or mother's last name.


By Al on Thursday, August 5, 2004 - 6:29 pm:

Thanks to all for your input. My wife did change her Koseki when she changed her name. Some have mentioned using both passports when travelling(Japanese when leaving-Canadian one when entering Canada and the reverse coming back) and this may be a stupid question. Assuming my wife decides to change her name and koseki back to her maiden name, and our son has the same on his Japanese passport but my family name on his Canadian one-what name goes on his ticket?

By Jonathan Higgins on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 12:49 am:

Use your son's 'real' name on his ticket, the name you call him every day, his Japanese name. And use his Japanese passport for short vacations - traveling to and from Japan. I assume that Canada and Japan have the standard 3 month visa waiver. Are you ever going to find yourself strictly on 'vacation' for longer than 3 months?

By Heide Ferguson on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 2:48 am:

I may not have a child born in Japan. However, my two younger ones were born in KL, Malaysia and the youngest one was born in Canberra, Australia. I know having a first born as proud parents we want the best and the fanciest for our baby... but not necessarily the most practical. All four of my children have US passports. I thought it would be cool to get them all another passport from my country of origin...bad move. I did it though to my son who was born in Malaysia. Getting the paper work was not too bad however, when the real passport got into my hands his name was not the same as written in his USA passport and certificate of birth abroad. I showed it to the US consulate and to a lawyer and was told that it would be for the best interest of the child to have only one passport with his name...the one that you have given him and the family name which is the name of the head of the house hold. Head of the household means the father of the child/the sperm donor. If the child has 2 passports it must have exactly the same name and not only the passports that we are talking about here, all of his dealings when he grew up must bear what ever legal name you as parents have given your son. DO NOT complicate it. Save your son the grief in the future. It is not easy to deal with the consulates, government anywhere in the world. I have been there and done that.

Best of luck to the family

By Caroline on Friday, August 6, 2004 - 2:10 pm:

From my experience, it is an incredible advantage to hold multiple nationalities. Whether or not your children get passports from your country of origin, they should at least acquire that nationality, if permitted (not all countries accept dual or multiple nationalities). Think how easy then it will be for them to move to any of those countries to work, study or travel when they are older.
I agree with Heide though on sticking to the same name for all nationalities. Saves a lot of paperwork!

By Al on Sunday, August 8, 2004 - 12:27 pm:

Does anyone have experience with any problems regarding different names on passports or ID's? For example-Japanese registered name Taro Tanaka-foreign reg'd name Taro Tanaka Smith. Tanak being a middle name on the foreign passport not a hyphenated last name. We are leaning towards our son having a Japanese family name as we live in Japan and feel that would be easier, and on his CDN passport using her family name as the middle name and mine as the last name. Problem? Stupid to do? I know some have already written about this in general and thanks for that, I'd like to know again if anyone has any practical experience with this. Would it be easier to have my family name as the middle name on the CDN passport? Look forward to your thoughts.

By Sandy Cox on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 9:00 pm:

(In response to above message dated 5 August.) My immediate guess would be that given the climate in air travel these days, you need to keep the travel documents matching each other. So if you put one name on his ticket, then you will have to use the passport that matches that name. In the past for example, women could have the excuse of having gotten married but not having had time to change their passport to reflect the name change, but nowadays they seem to be quite strict. Switching ones name is something that needs careful thought. There are lots of rammifications. If a name were to appear as an alias to some official it would automatically arouse suspicions I would guess.

By amelia ijiri on Monday, March 7, 2005 - 1:32 pm:

If my child is born in the US to an American mother and Japanese father will the child get a Japanese passport in addition to the american one?

By Cornelia on Tuesday, March 8, 2005 - 6:33 am:

If the child is in the Japanese parent's "koseki" (family register) from birth, then the child is Japanese also, and can get a Japanese passport. Living abroad, the father can complete the necessary paperwork through the Japanese Embassy usually. The father can do this even if he is not married to the mother.

By Erin Siddall on Tuesday, March 8, 2005 - 10:31 pm:

Just a word of warning about not being married to a Japanese man and trying to enter the child into his Kosseki...
It can be fantastically hard!
It is techinically allowed, but can take up to a year or longer, while the ministry of Justice searches for the respective acknowledgement of paternity (NINCHI) laws in the mother's country/state/province. The child cannot use the father's name or recognition (ninchi) on the Japanese birth certificate if the child is born (at least in Japan) when the foreign mother is not married. Then the father can apply for Ninchi, which will be granted in a indefinate amount of time.

My 5 month old daughter has still not been entered (despite application and frequent requests by the father and finally prompting by a lawyer) into the father's kosseki. We were married when she was three months old (as we heard that this might be a shortcut).

The ninchi was finally granted, but we will have to apply again separately for her Japanese nationality as well.

Hopefully this will be easier from out of country, since the embassy/consulate may be more used to international family law rocedures than local ward offices!

At any rate, if the parents are not married, it seems to be a good idea to at least apply for Ninchi before the child is born, and perhaps if lucky, it will be granted before registering the birth.

Good luck!

By tia tanaka on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 4:55 pm:

I read somewhere that somone mentioned that it is possible to keep 2 passports for babies/kids. Japan allow dual citizenship until the child is 20 years old, right?

My husband is Japanese, and our baby is born abroad. The baby is registered in his koseki tohon, hence entitled to Japanese citizenship. Our baby is now having a foreign passport, as he has been spending a lot of time overseas, and not Japan.

We have not applied for a Japanese passport for him yet, as the reason we like to keep the foreign passport. Is it possible to have both? How is it possible for him to keep 2 passports at this stage? Can he leave and enter Japan using the Japanese passport, and at the other side, leaves and enter using the foreign passport? Which means that in the Japanese passport, there is no double entry, a stamp when leaving Japan, and only when entering Japan another stamp. It doesn't show any stamp as to which country the person has gone. Is that possible? Or is this something very illegal? Has anyone any experience to share?

By Victoria Morehouse on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 5:44 pm:

My children have both a Japanese passport and a US passport. When they leave and reenter Japan, they use the Japanese passport. When entering and leaving the US, they use their US passport.
When we lived in the US, we used their US passport for going to another country. Now we live in Japan and we use their Japanese passport for travelling (except to US)
I was told they can continue to use both until they turn 20, however, I don't see any mechanisim in the system that would prevent them from extending beyond 20years.

By Natasha Watts on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 7:25 pm:

Being half Japanese and half Amercian, I've always had 2 passports. I use them just as Victoria posted about her children, and I never encountered any problems. By the way, I'm already 17 years late (haha) to choose my one citinzenship.

It is true that the Japanese law doesn't officially allow dual citizenships for persons over 20. But the reality is, at at this point, there isn't a working system to (catch) us. No one will come after you once you turn 20 but not choose one country over another. I don't think I am the only lucky one since I know many people in the same situation, and they are all well over 20!
The thing is, during my teens I really suffered over the issue of deciding one nationality. I've always considered myself to be a Japanese national (not gaijin) while living here, yet I feel the same way about being an American while living in the states. I had no idea at the time that it was as easy as to just not self report. I believed that I'd get caught and get in so much trouble if I didn't choose. Well, since I lived in the states from when I was 20 to 27 and the US allow dual citizenships, I just stoppped worrying so much about it, although I DID make sure that my Japanese passport never expired.

I have 2 young kids now and the older son has dual citizenships as well. Which reminds me that I have to make a trip to the embassy soon for my baby! He will turn one this week, and that is about the same age when I registered my older son. For those of you reading this who still haven't gotten dual citizenships for your children, there isn't a time limit to register your child for a US citizenship but better to do it soon to be on the safe side. It was as simple as going to the embassy with all the paperwork. The American law is that at least one of the parents must have been physically present on US land for over 10 years (I believe, sorry I forgot the exact years required) so if my kids don't move to the states in the future, they will not be able to claim their children as American citizens.

As a HALF", it is extremely difficult to choose one country over another to claim as your nationality. I really hope that Japan would someday revise its law re: dual citizenships. But meanwhile, I am only writing this from my own experiance and the Law still sais to choose one nationality.

And finally, just the other day when I went to the Shiyakusho (city hall), I saw this big poster saying in Japanese "Choose your Nationality, It's the LAW!!" Yikes, are there actually so many of us out here that they finally had to make a poster about the issue? Are they finally catching on?
But I'm not sweating for the time being!!

By Yuko Kubota on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 9:36 pm:

Daul nationality is not technically against the Japanese law.

Please refer to the following English translation of the Nationality Law of Japan from the official website of the Ministry of Justice Japan.

First of all, note that the age you must choose your nationality is 22 and not 20. This is according to Article 14 where it says,
"A Japanese national having a foreign nationality shall choose either of the nationalities before he or she reaches twenty two years of age if he or she has acquired both nationalities on and before the day when he or she reaches twenty years of age or, within two years after the day when he or she acquired the second nationality if he or she acquired such nationality after the day when he or she reached twenty years of age."

However, the law doesn't actually tell you to _surrender_ your other nationality. It just says you have to _keep trying_. Please refer to Article 16 for details where it says,
"A Japanese national who has made the declaration of choice shall endeavour to deprive himself or herself of the foreign nationality."

So bottom line, no, you won't get "caught" even if they find out you have dual nationality after 22 years of age. Just tell them, "I'm trying" and you'll be okay. If you don't believe me, phone the Ministry or your local Japanese Embassy yourself. Anonymously if you wish. I know lots of people who actually inquired about this, and they're still free. Now, spread the word.

Also, if there is anyone spiritually lost between multiple nationalities or culture, the following Japanese website run by a "half" gentlemen is highly recommended.

By Noname on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 9:49 pm:

Dear Yuko san,
Thank you very much for your helpful message. What do you think, if I apply for Japanese citizenship, could I keep my previous one? Unfortunately my country does not allow dual citizenship. Do I need to have any paper from my embassy saying that I had abdicated of my native citizenship? Do you have any idea?

By Yuko Kubota on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 10:47 pm:

Noname san,

Thank you for addressing me, but I'm afraid I am no law expert, and your case seems to be slightly different from those who already had dual citizenship by birth. I just happened to know about the previous case, because I had done some personal research.

I hope someone else can give you advise on your case. Or you can just inquire to the Ministry in Japan or an Embassy and read the law by yourself. Good luck!

By Tia Tanaka on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 12:55 am:

Thank you for the messages informing that you can actually keep 2 passports secretly, meaning use the Japanese one only when leaving and entering Japan, and use the other foreign passport at the immigration of the foreign country. We are talking about a baby acquiring Japanese citizenship by birth, because father is Japanese and mother is foreigner.

1. I might have asked this question before, but if you do that, doesn`t the Japanese immigration look at the passport and ask where did you come back from, before he stamps it upon entry into Japan? Doesn`t he look for a stamp of the foreign country in the Japanese passport? Because the passport has no double entry, and only single entry upon leaving and entering Japan.

2. Because we have stayed oversea for awhile, my baby has now entered Japan using a foreign passport. He has a Japanese citizenship as well, because father is Japanese and has been recorded in the koseki tohon. But because baby entered using a foreign passport (we have not done a Japanese passport for baby yet), the immigration gave a 90 days visit stamp in baby's foreign passport. What is the procedure that we should do now if we want to continue staying here? Should we just leave it, since the baby has Japanese citizenship as well? Meaning, we only apply for a japanese passport, when we want to leave Japan, and use the Japanese passport then, when leaving and entering Japan as stated in no 1 above?

3. And when we make the Japanese passport, there is no necessary to surrender the foreign passport? The immigration does not need a letter from the foreign embassy stating that the foreign passport has been surrendered?

Any advice is very much appreciated.

By Natasha Watts on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 4:26 am:

HI Tia,
1. I have never ever had a problem at the immigrations. I have so many one way stamps on both my US and Japanese passports. It does seem odd doesn't it?! Whenever I visit the States, it's like I always leave and enter Japan without ever entering another country, but no officials have paid any attention to this. I've been too afraid to question the authotrities on this one, but as Yuko kindly informed us all, I guess dual nationality was never really against the law as I have always been told!
By the way, if that were the case, it really is bogus for Japan to make huge posters to scare us in the city halls, stating it is a crime to have dual citizenships! Not to scare you Tia, but I clearly remember the poster horrifying me.

2. I don't know this one, I always entered back to Japan using my Japanese passport.

3. This one I know for sure is not a problem at all. When I went in to make my 1 yr old son's Japanese passport, he already had his US passport and it was no problem.

One funny tale. And also something you should consider. My son's name is Ocean but on his japanese passport he is "Oshan" !! The Japanese passport office only go by ROMA-Ji UNLESS you have paperwork such as birth certificate, passport to verify the correct spelling. Unfortunately I did not think to take any of his American paperwork so he is officially "Oshan"! Yikes!
I was tiold that I can officially change the spelling if I submit the proper paper work.

Anyway. don't worry so much. The whole dual citizenship thing is not as difficult as we all think.
Once again, Yuko Thanks!! Spread the word.

By Natasha Watts on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 4:28 am:

HI Tia,
1. I have never ever had a problem at the immigrations. I have so many one way stamps on both my US and Japanese passports. It does seem odd doesn't it?! Whenever I visit the States, it's like I always leave and enter Japan without ever entering another country, but no officials have paid any attention to this. I've been too afraid to question the authotrities on this one, but as Yuko kindly informed us all, I guess dual nationality was never really against the law as I have always been told!
By the way, if that were the case, it really is bogus for Japan to make huge posters to scare us in the city halls, stating it is a crime to have dual citizenships! Not to scare you Tia, but I clearly remember the poster horrifying me.

2. I don't know this one, I always entered back to Japan using my Japanese passport.

3. This one I know for sure is not a problem at all. When I went in to make my 1 yr old son's Japanese passport, he already had his US passport and it was no problem.

One funny tale. And also something you should consider. My son's name is Ocean but on his japanese passport he is "Oshan" !! The Japanese passport office only go by ROMA-Ji UNLESS you have paperwork such as birth certificate, passport to verify the correct spelling. Unfortunately I did not think to take any of his American paperwork so he is officially "Oshan"! Yikes!
I was told that I can officially change the spelling if I submit the proper paper work.

Anyway. don't worry so much. The whole dual citizenship thing is not as difficult as we all think.
Once again, Yuko Thanks!! Spread the word.

By Natasha Watts on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 4:32 am:

sorry for the double post!! O dunno what happened!

By Shibuya on Monday, June 27, 2005 - 5:40 pm:

When I have showed both Japanese and foreign passport for my children when going through immigration at the airport (as I thought I had to), I have been told by immigration officials themselves to only have my children use their Japanese passports when leaving and entering Japan even though they have another (legal) nationality. It is the same when entering the foreign country, i.e.: do not show the Japanese passport, only the passport for the country you are entering.

If you are traveling from Japan to a third country, use the Japanese passport to leave and the passport you think will be the most easily accepted in the other country.

DO NOT SHOW BOTH!! For some reason this puts immigration into a tizzy and many questions will follow! It seems strange to me too, but I got this information straight from the source.

Dual nationality isn't anything you have to keep "secret", but until all countries have some kind of agreement on how to deal with it at immigration, it's better to keep it simple for the

By Pato on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 7:26 am:

USA citizenship plus Japanese citizenship / communique from the USA embassy dated 2005 sep 27

Questions About Dual Nationality

Every year thousands of children are born to U.S. and Japanese parents, with just about all of these newborns obtaining both American and Japanese citizenship. As a result, U.S. consular officials are often asked for information or guidance on a myriad of issues related to dual nationality.

United States law does not contain any provisions requiring U.S. Citizens who are born with dual nationality or who acquire a second nationality at an early age to choose one nationality or the other when they become adults (see Mandoli v. Acheson, 344 U.S. 133 [1952] ). The current nationality laws of the United States do not specifically refer to dual nationality.

On the other hand, according to a pamphlet published by the Japanese Ministry of Justice, Japanese law requires persons holding both foreign citizenship and Japanese citizenship (dual nationals) to choose a single nationality before reaching age 22 (or, if having acquired dual nationality after age 20, within two years of acquisition). Failure to choose one nationality may result in that person losing their Japanese nationality.

"Choosing" Japanese nationality does not mean you lose U.S. nationality. If your choice is to remain Japanese, you will still retain your U.S. citizenship. If you wish to renounce your U.S. citizenship, something we never advise, you must come to the Embassy or a consulate in person to complete that procedure. This is completely separate from the Japan requirement to choose or not choose Japanese citizenship.

While recognizing the existence of dual nationality and permitting Americans to have other nationalities, the U.S. Government does not endorse dual nationality as a matter of policy because of the problems which it may cause. Claims of other countries upon dual-national U.S. Citizens often place them in situations where their obligations to one country are in conflict with the laws of the other.

In addition, their dual nationality may hamper efforts to provide diplomatic and consular protection to them while they are abroad. It generally is considered that while a dual national is in the other country of which the person is a citizen, that country has a predominant claim on the person. In cases where a dual national encounters difficulty in a foreign country of which the person is a citizen, the ability of the U.S. Government to provide assistance may be quite limited since many foreign countries may not recognize the dual national's claim to U.S. Citizenship.

If you are a dual national, Section 215 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act ( 8 U.S.C. 1185) requires U.S. Citizens to use U.S. passports when entering or leaving the United States unless one of the exceptions listed in Section 53.2 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations applies. Dual nationals may be required by the other country of which they are citizens to enter and leave that country using its passport, but they do not endanger their U.S. citizenship by complying with such a requirement.

More information on dual nationality can be found at:

By Tia Tanaka on Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 12:16 am:


I have a question here regarding the usage of 2 passports for a baby who obtained 2 nationalities until the age of 21 (?), where he has to choose the Japanese nationality or not. Anyway, he has used the Japanese passport when leaving the japanese immigration and is now abroad, and used the foreign passport when entering the other country. Now, if he stays away from japan for more than 3 months, will it pose any problem when he enters Japan again using the Japanese passport? Does he has to get any sort of approval?Can the Japanese passport be used for travel away for more than 3 months? I don`t think it matters if baby is away for more than 3 months, but I remembered the officer at the place of making passport in Japan mentioned something about getting some kind of approval if baby is away for more than 3 months in another country. Do write in if you are familiar with such situations.

Many thanks,

By Natasha Watts on Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 10:19 pm:

Well Tia,
I've stayed away from Japan without coming back for 6months, 2 years and over 4 years at one time and had no problems. As always, I just showed my Japanese passport upon arrival and that was it.


By Half Japanese on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 2:40 pm:

Hello All,

Sorry to get you involved in my personal "issues", but I found this site and was amazed at how many others out there are like me. ; )

My situation is a bit different---I have both nationalities (US and Japan) and am well over the 22 age limit requirement of chosing a single nationality. My names are COMPLETELY different, first and last, which makes things a bit complicated. I used my US name forever, until about 5 years ago when I came to Japan to work as a Japanese national. I am now trying to figure out how to swap things over to my American name, so I can live here as a US citizen.

My problem, is that my US passport does not have a Visa stamp and would require me to leave and re-enter on my US passport. I am looking at having my wife support (yes, I married a Japanese national, un-officially) my Visa, but would then require that I go to the US embassy to get a singed affidavit for her to submit to the Japanese ward office.

To make a long story short, when going in to the US embassy, I am a bit worried if they see that my US passport doesn't have a Visa stamp.

Or am I over-reacting here?

By Roxy on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 5:36 pm:

Sorry, but I can not understand why you would subject yourself to all of this trouble. I can see no advantage in changing your visa status?

By Scott Hancock on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 10:19 pm:

It is a puzzle as to why you would want to live in Japan as an alien instead of a native.

Your U.S. self is not in Japan, I think. I believe it would open a can of worms, more with Japan Immigration than U.S. - if you presented your U.S. self physically, at this point.

Seems to me the cleanest way to do, would be to go out as you came in, then re-enter as your U.S. self on a normal waiver/no visa and then start the spouse visa process like everyone else.

There might be other details that aren't mentioned that could complicate things.


By Half Japanese on Sunday, March 26, 2006 - 11:29 pm:

Thanks for your replies.

It really just falls under the fact that I want my wife to file her papers as her marrying an American and that's all...

By Roxy on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 11:11 pm:

I would suggest you seek some legal advice regarding this. From what I understand you just need to produce your US ID at the registry office (they may not even decide to see it). However, if you decide to have kids you are at a legal disadvantage to change your status.

I agree with Scott and think that you are opening up a can of worms by changing your status.

By Michael on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - 9:54 am:


What a fascinating conundrum you have had fall into your lap!

First, you neednft worry about Japanese immigration (but I suggest that you refrain from waving your U.S. passport around them). You are a Japanese national. Second, you neednft worry about those at the U.S. Embassy because, well, you are a Japanese national. The U.S. Embassy assists with the issuance of thousands of U.S. passports without visas to Japanese citizens every year for the simple reason that Japanese citizens do not need visas in their U.S. passports.

In Japan, dual nationals who do not choose a nationality by the age of 22 are assumed to have selected Japanese nationality. The United States has long recognized dual nationality as a status recognized in law. And in the United States, the automatic acquisition or retention of a foreign nationality does not affect U.S. citizenship. Simply, here in Japan, making no choice about nationality allows a dual citizen to maintain both Japanese and U.S. citizenship.

Of course, a Japanese national having foreign nationality who has failed to choose Japanese nationality by the age of 22 could be sent a written notice by the Minister of Justice (MOJ) requiring the dual national to choose one of the nationalities he or she possesses, but the MOJ would first have to have evidence that the dual national is in fact a dual national and has not deprived himself or herself of the foreign nationality. And the MOJ simply does not have access to such confidential records maintained by foreign states. Here are a few useful links if youfd like to learn more:

My suggestion would be that you phone the embassy ((03) 3224-5000)), explain your situation, and ask for some advice. I am sure theyfve dealt with such situations before.

My guess is that all you would need to do to get married here in Japan using the name on your U.S. passport would be to stop by the U.S. Embassy and pick up an Affidavit of Competency to Marry (Konin Yoken Gubi Shomeisho), which is basically proof that there are no legal barriers to the marriage (e.g., you are not currently married to another lady), then take that affidavit and your U.S. passport to your city office, where you and your wife can fill out the marriage registration form and obtain the required copy of her family register. And the party follows!

Please update us on how you eventually resolve this issue.

By Half Japanese on Saturday, April 1, 2006 - 12:08 pm:

Thanks for all your advice/encouragement. A quick update, I did eventually go to the US embassy and get the affidavit, then went on to the local ward office to file for marriage with my US passport. A few questions about my mother being Japanese and so on, which seemed to spark a bit of interest in to the eyes of the guy issuing the paperwork, but other than that, things went fine.

I am now on my way to having my wife support my visa so I can completely swap everything over to my US "name", which seems to be a new headache all in itself.

Thanks again!

By Canadianbriton on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 - 11:24 am:

British is Jus soil until 1983, but being English, Scottish, or Welsh, is Jus Sanguinis, a matter of bloodline.
When I sit down with a Japanese Briton and compare how him not being an Englishmen is the same as how I as a HAKUJIN can only be a nihon kokuseki kikajin but not really be nihonjin, he too likewise can call himself a Briton, British, or a British passport holder, but NEVER call himself an Englishmen, he understood with respect, without putting up a fight.

My half kids will never be considered honma no nihonjin, They even were called Konchan for konketsu which means haafu.

By Cwhite on Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - 1:59 am:

Not quite true. I'm half British/Japanese but everyone considers me to be as much a Brit as a Japanese citizen. Not only in past schools, work places and clients, but also overseas. I think it all comes down to what you feel and how you portray yourself. I don't why you can't be a typical Englishman with a Brit accent who loves to drink tea, but also speak fluent Japanese, love greentea and looks like a native of all sorts of countries like Italy, France, Brazil, USA and countless other countries that people mistake me for.... and also ask for road directions(^-^)

By Robinakira on Friday, October 26, 2007 - 8:50 pm:

My Partner is Japanese, I am English, we registered our son's birth in the UK a little over 2.5 years ago, my Partner was going through the end of her divorce at the time.

in order for our son to embrace both parts of his family history we wanted to register him in both Japan and the UK, the UK was not a problem but due to the divorce in Japan my partners ex has to be registered as the male parent (the 300 day rule) we have made MANY enquires through the Japanese Embassy in London and have found them extremely un-helpful in sorting out the problems.

I was hoping that there has been a case similar to ours coming through your office, I understand that there is a piece of international law that states the birth certificate from the country of birth (within recognized countries) is binding for all.

The main issue is in Japan I would have to adopt my own son, being adopted myself I'm aware of the stigma this would have in a country such as Japan plus no one want to have to adopt their own child.

Please can anyone help us

By Sandy on Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 10:45 am:

In order to refute the 300 day rule you have to get the previous husband to refute paternity of the child. Some men will refuse to do that out of spite or whatever. Below is an article about one woman who successfully fought the 300 day rule with DNA testing.

The staff at the Japanese Embassy in London probably doesn't think it's his/her job. In Japan it all has to be spelled out in order for an employee to be able to do anything at all. Very rare to find someone willing to exercise personal initiative. And bureaucrats are that way anyway, the world over.

The DNA testing of real father and child is an excellent way to circumvent having to get the cooperation of the ex-husband.

However, be aware, tests done outside Japan may not be accepted (by authorities in Japan). Check it out ahead of time. Also, be aware that there different municipal offices will have different policies or should I say "interpretations" of whether or not DNA testing is going to be accepted. You will probably be forced to go through the municipal office where the divorce was registered which should also be the same one where the ex-husband has his family registry located, and the family court associated with that municipal office. With luck it will be Setagaya-ku, Tokyo! (As in the article below.) Be prepared for at least the Japanese mother to make a trip to Japan for the family court appearance.

Unfortunately, even after long physical separation, the actual date of divorce seems to be the only date that counts.
New divorcees push for DNA testing to be allowed to prove paternity of newborn children

Mainichi Daily News
January 8, 2007

Recently-divorced women are increasingly requesting that DNA testing be allowed to prove their newborn children's paternity, enabling them to be registered in their new husband's name.

The Civil Code currently stipulates that any child born within 300 days of the mother's divorce is recognized as being fathered by the mother's ex-husband. In order for such children to be entered in their new family register, the ex-husband must testify in court that he is not the father.

A 32-year-old woman living in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, married her current husband in December 2004 after divorcing her previous husband six months earlier, and gave birth to her daughter in January 2005.

When she and her new husband registered their marriage at the ward office, she told an official that she was 10 months pregnant. At the time, the official told her that the child could not be registered in her husband's family register, citing the Civil Code clause.

The woman later discovered that she had to ask her former husband -- who had abused her repeatedly during their marriage -- to testify that the girl was not his child at a family court.

But after she submitted the results of DNA tests on her husband and daughter, and a testimonial from her new husband, the court officially recognized her daughter as the child of her new husband in June 2005.

"We did it as a special measure," a court official was quoted as telling her; but the woman says she wants this procedure to become more common.

"I want new rules to be worked out to allow children like mine to join in their fathers' family registries in a short period of time," the woman said.

Another 39-year-old woman, a resident of Morioka, still cannot register her daughter she gave birth to in October -- 266 days after she divorced her former husband -- in her new husband's family register.

The woman and her new husband have filed a lawsuit demanding that her divorced husband testify that he is not the father of her daughter.

"The rules should be amended to allow our daughter to join my husband's family register simply by submitting the results of DNA tests on my husband and daughter to the local government office," she said.

The Justice Ministry's Civil Affairs Bureau said it has no statistics on such legal disputes. However, the number of similar cases is believed to be increasing, experts said, noting that the proportion of remarriages is rising. (Mainichi)

Copyright 2005-2006 THE MAINICHI NEWSPAPERS.

By Canadianbriton on Saturday, December 15, 2007 - 12:20 am:

The new machine installed as of November 20, 2007 with the IC chip inside your passport as well as the finger printing of all foreigners with the face, do not enter Japan as a foreigner since the info will link up with your Japanese passport.

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