Citizenship and Nationality/Japan

Japanese citizenship is regulated by the Nationality Act of May 4, 1950 as Law No. 147 of 1950, as amended by Law No. 268 of 1952, Law No. 45 of 1984, Law No. 89 of 1993 and Law No. 147 of 2004, Law No. 88 of 2008.
  • BY BIRTH: Birth within the territory of Japan does not automatically confer Japanese citizenship. Only in the case of a child whose parents are unknown or stateless is the child considered a Japanese citizen. (Article 2, item (3))
    • Child, whose father is a citizen of Japan, regardless of the child’s country of birth. This law also applies if the father dies before the birth of the child. (Article 2, items (1) and (2))
    • Child born to Japanese mother and unknown or stateless father. (Amended Article 2, item (1) would allow a child born to Japanese mother and foreign father to be born a Japanese.)
  • BY NATURALIZATION: The Minister of Justice may naturalize an alien within many conditions: (Article 4)
    • One has consecutively lived in Japan for 5 years, is at least 20 years old, is of upright conduct, is able to secure a livelihood, and is stateless or will lose foreign nationality upon Japanese nationality unless the Minister of Justice finds exceptional circumstances that prevents losing current nationality. (Article 5)
    • One meets some other qualifications (Articles 6 to 10)

Exception: If a child is born abroad to Japanese parents the child can acquire dual nationality if citizenship is also acquired in the country of birth. Person with dual nationality has to choose one nationality by the age of 22. If dual nationality is acquired between ages 20 and 22, the person must choose one nationality within 2 years. If one does not choose Japanese nationality within these periods, the Minister of Justice can require one to choose a nationality. Failure to comply within one month of this requirement will result in loss of Japanese citizenship. (Articles 14 and 15)

  • VOLUNTARY: Voluntary renunciation of citizenship can be accomplished at any Japanese consulate abroad. Paperwork will be completed at the Embassy; citizenship will terminate immediately. Renunciations do not have to be further approved by the government. (Article 13 but cannot voluntarily go stateless)
  • INVOLUNTARY: The following is grounds for involuntary loss of Japanese citizenship:
    • Person voluntarily acquires foreign nationality. (Article 11, item (1))
    • Japanese chooses foreign nationality per foreign law. (Article 11, item (2))
    • Foreign-born Japanese fails to preserve Japanese nationality per Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947). (Article 12)
    • Choosing Japanese nationality by declaration of choice requires trying everything possible to lose foreign nationality, but voluntarily holding foreign public office requiring foreign nationality after making such a declaration allows the Minister of Justice to hold a public hearing to remove Japanese nationality. (Article 16)