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Home » Archives » June 2007 » NHK Examines Dual Citizenship in Japan

NHK Examines Dual Citizenship in Japan

Tuesday, June 5, 2007 Posted: 09:16 PM JST

(by Jean Miyake Downey) - This week, NHK will air a program about dual citizenship, called "Naze ikenai? Niju Kokuseki" ("Dual Citizenship. Why not?"). It is a timely topic given the tremendous increase of the rate of international marriages in Japan. One of the people to be interviewed for the program is historian Bruce Batten, Vice President of J.F. Oberlin University. The program will be taped on June 8. NHK usually airs this program on the day of taping, or the following day.

In 2000, 1 in 10 marriages in Tokyo were between a foreigner and a Japanese person. Most of these marriages were between a Japanese man and a woman from China, the Philippines, South or North Korea. Japanese women who marry internationally generally marry Koreans, followed by Americans. J. Sean Curtin's 2002 article on international marriage in Japan reflects a still ongoing trend.

Nationality in Japan by Japan scholar William Wetherall provides a broad overview of of the issue of nationality in Japan.

Wetherall states that "while Japan does not encourage Japanese adults to also be nationals of other countries, dual nationality is not today, and in fact has never been, illegal in Japan, and the number of dual nationals is increasing."

However, the Japanese Ministry of Justice state children with dual citizenship should make a choice of citizenship before the age of twenty-two. It sounds as if some people are allowed to slip through the cracks, without real threat of action taken by any "citizenship police" to alter the situation of those who, for whatever reason, don't address this issue when they reach twenty-two...

Around 89 nations allow multiple citizenship. Australia allows multiple citizenship and 4-5 million Australians (25% of the population) have dual or multiple citizenship, mostly with the U.K. Many Canadians similarly hold British or French citizenship. Over 60% of Swiss citizens who live abroad hold dual citizenship.

The United States also allows multiple citizenship, if such citizenship is granted automatically. If an American citizen seeks a different nationality, then that person's American citizenship may be terminated. Arnold Schwarzeneggar, governor of California, holds both Austrian and American citizenships. Germany also allows multiple citizenship, with restrictions.

Denmark and South Korea are among some countries that don't allow multiple citizenship.

Jean Miyake Downey is a contributing editor at the Kyoto Journal: Perspectives on Asia (www.kyotojournal.org), an award-winning English-language quarterly published in Kyoto, Japan. She covers multicultural and transnational issues. Drawing on her background as a sociologist and lawyer, she takes an interdisciplinary look at the nexuses between historical and contemporary hybridity and fusion; global cultural trauma and historical healing; the revival and survival of traditional and indigenous cultures; and global human rights movements.

Keywords: national_news

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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