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Obtaining Citizenship for Kids Born to Japanese Fathers Out of Wedlock
Researched By Cornelia [1 March 2009]

Background: New Law Passed on December 6, 2008
MOJflierFront Basically, children born to Japanese women have been permitted instant Japanese citizenship regardless of who the father is or marital status between the parents. However in the case of children born to a non-Japanese mother, but with a Japanese father, they were not allowed Japanese citizenship from birth, unless the father registered them within 2 weeks after birth to his family register (Koseki Touhon) or even better, before the birth (a procedure referred to as taiji ninchi).

In a ground-breaking decision, the Supreme Court of Japan decided in June of 2008 that [under certain conditions] these children are also entitled to Japanese Citizenship. On December 5, 2008, the Japan Diet passed the new law supporting the Supreme Court decision. Here is a cached copy of an article in English on this topic. The Ministry of Justice has now formulated the guidelines and procedures by which these children can apply for their Japanese citizenships. They have printed a brochure (click on the image to obtain a larger printable image) that can be found in City Halls all over Japan.

What are the procedures and the guidelines?
All information published thus far by the Ministry of Justice seems to be in Japanese only except for the translation provided for the flier pictured.

The typical place to start is at your local ward office or city hall. Ask about obtaining Kokuseki-hou (citizenship) for a child born to a Japanese father out of wedlock. They may give you one of the brochures (that for some reason may not be on public display) pictured on this page.

Here is the Japanese to English translation of the brochure provided by the MOJ:

MOJflierBack (front) Criteria Changes to Acquisition of Japanese Nationality

The Nationality Act has been amended so that from January 1, 2009 a person whose paternity has been acknowledged by he/her father who is a Japanese national is able to acquire, by filing a notification, Japanese nationality even if his/her parents are not married to each other.

Those who were not able to acquire nationality before this amendment due to their parents' unmarried status can acquire Japanese nationality by filing a notification by December 31, 2011.

For details please contact the relevant office as given below.
For people residing in Japan: The legal affairs bureau/ district legal affairs bureau
For people residing abroad: The Japanese embassy/consulate

False notifications of parental acknowledgement of nationality acquisition may be subject to punishment.

Ministry of Justice ( [image for infra-red reader] Cellular phone site of the Ministry of Justice

(Back) Acquisition of nationality in accordance with Article 3 of the amended Nationality Act
The amended act permits a person whose parents are not married to each other to acquire Japanese nationality through a notification to the Minister of Justice, provided that he/she meets the following requirement:

Requirements for acquiring nationality
The person who intends to acquire nationality must:
* Be acknowledged legally by his/her father or mother,
* Be under 20 years of age,
* Not have previously been a Japanese national.
* The father/mother who acknowledged the person who intends to acquire nationality must have been a Japanese national when the person was born. The father/mother who acknowledged the person must presently be a Japanese national (or must have been a Japanese national at the time of death, if he/she died).

Notification Procedure
You (or a legal representative if you are under 15 years of age) must come in person to the relevant office and make the notification in writing.

Offices where the notification should be made
If you are residing in Japan: The legal affairs bureau / district legal affairs bureau with jurisdiction over the area in which you reside
If you are residing abroad: The Japanese embassy or consulate

Acquisition of nationality through this interim measure
If you fulfill [one of?] the following conditions you will be able to acquire Japanese nationality by notifying the Minister of Justice by December 31, 2011.

1: You were born on or after January 2, 1983, your father was a Japanese national at the time of your birth, and and you were legally acknowledged by your father before you reached 20 years of age. It is also required that your father is still a Japanese national at present (or at the time of death if your father is deceased).
2: You submitted a notification to acquire nationality by June 4, 2008, but could not acquire nationality at the time due to your parents' unmarried status.
3: You are the child of a person who submitted a notification to acquire nationality by December 31, 2002, but your parent could not acquire nationality at the time due to his/her parents' unmarried status. (In this case, your parent must first acquire Japanese nationality by filing the notification given in the interim measure.)
For further details, please contact your local legal affairs bureau / district legal affairs bureau, or the Japanese embassy or consulate.

False notifications of parental acknowledgement or of nationality acquisition may be subject to punishment.
You may be penalized if you make a false notification of acknowledgement stating that another person's child is your child, or if you make a notification of nationality acquisition using a false parental acknowledgement.

False notification of acknowledgement --> a prison term of up to five years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen
False notification of nationality acquisition --> a prison term of up to one year or a fine of up to 200,000 yen
False notification to the municipality to the effect that one has acquired nationality --> a prison term of up to five years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen

The child must be registered in the father's Koseki Touhon. If the child has not been registered in the father's family register (there is a special place for illegitimate offspring), be prepared to go through a procedure called "ninchi". This procedure is made difficult, but not necessarily impossible, by a father who is not willing. There are several cases of mothers who have been able to to complete the procedure with the help of court rulings. Even with the father's assistance, the procedure can take a long time, depending in large part on the original home and citizenship of the mother (2 years is not unheard of).

For some reason there is a deadline printed on the brochure of 2011 December 31. This suggests that if the child has not obtained ninchi yet, then there may be an enormous urgency to hurry up and work on getting it. On the other hand it is probably possible to initiate the application for Citizenship and also pursue the ninchi process simultaneously. In any case, the final deadline is the child's 20th birthday. This can be seen on the application form, bottom of the front, where the requirements are listed as:
* Ninchi completed (date)
* Applicant under 20 years old
* Applicant does not have Japanese nationality (yes, this is really what it says!)
* The father was Japanese at the time the child was born.
* The father is still Japanese, or was Japanese at the time of his death (if he is deceased, date of death)

The one specific case that I know of the "ninchi" process, with the father's cooperation, took just about 2 years, but the entry in the father's Koseki Touhon was dated back to the original reception of the application, not the day that it was finally authorized as completed. In other words, even if you think it might be too late to start, because your child's is almost too old to make the deadline, maybe if you start right away, it is still possible. The deadline of the end of 2011 strikes me as a kind of blocking maneuver by the Department of Justice against the Supreme Court decision. I don't think it would stand up in court. But going to court is costly.

MOJ Tokyo Location (by appointment only):
Kudan Dai 2 (building #2) Goudou Chousha
1-1-15-8F Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-5213-1234 (switchboard), or
Tel: 03-5213-1347 (direct to the appropriate department)
- Appointments are made by telephone. The available times are Monday through Friday from 9:00-11:00 and 13:00-15:00 The appointments are made in batches and afternoons are more crowded than mornings. For example, even if you arrive exactly at 14:00, as appointed, you may still wait until 14:45 before being seen. Do not bother going without an appointment. We saw a woman turned away because she did not have an appointment.
- Access: From Jimbocho station 10 minutes. From Kudanshita station (exit#6) station 5 minutes. From Takebashi station 5 minutes.
- When you exit the elevator on the 8th floor go staight across to a hall perpendicular and you'll see a door on the right, probably open, with a small waiting area.
- Fill out a blank form, which looks something like this, that lets them know you are there and put it in the basket.
- Bring a friend to translate, if you do not speak Japanese. Bring mother's passports, current and also old, cancelled passport if child(ren) was/were born during the time frame of an older passport; also for the father if possible. A caseworker will make copies and also check that mother and father were in the same country at the time of child(ren)'s conception. Bring the boshi techo for each child. Your initial caseworker will give you a list of documents that they require, and ask that you make a second appointment for presenting these documents. Call and make the appointment right away, which will be a minumum of one month in the future, so that you can get a time most agreeable to you.
- When you go for the second appointment, you will do the actual completion of the application after all the requested documents have been submitted and and checked off the list, and you will be given an application number. From now on, use this number to refer to your case in any correspondence or phone calls. If there is/are a few more items required, you will probably be allowed to mail them in and they will provide you with pre-addressed envelope and write your case number on the front. Go ahead and make the third appointment, by telephone as soon as you get home!
- Your third appointment will be with a new person, and this is where you may suffer the most annoying questions so far. Do not bother to get angry. Answer with as little detail as possible (always wise). Sometimes the black and white photocopies do not make it easy to find entry and exit stamps in the passports and so on. Copying them again in color and mailing them in may expedite things! At some point there will be a final appointment. Your application will be passed or failed and you will receive notice of passing that you then need to take to your local City Hall (where the child has its foreigner ID card (gaikokujin touroku) registered).
- Building is marked with a red asterisk on the map below showing Kudanshita subway station


Family Register = Koseki Touhon (Every Japanese person has one or is included on their husband's or their father's, or parent's, etc.)
Child Gaining Legal Recognition by Male Parent = Ninchi
Citizenship = Kokuseki-hou
government office building = chousha
Ministry of Justice = houmu, houmushou

Related links:

Application Form (in Japanese): front, back

Questions to be answered by parent of child: Mojquestions_for_parent.gif (if ninchi was obtained through a court process against the father's wishes, this form may not be required)

Japan With Kids - Forums: Immigration/visas/re-entry permits/naturalization: Japanese Citizen
Japan With Kids - Forums: Immigration/visas/re-entry permits/naturalization: Children of Japanese Father

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