Japanese Citizenship

Japanese Citizenship

A straightforward introduction to the law surrounding Japanese citizenship, intended for foreign-born individuals wondering if they qualify for Japanese citizenship, those struggling with dual citizenship/ nationality issues, as well as people looking to emigrate to Japan.

Japanese Citizenship Requirements

Most countries confer citizenship either by birth (as in the US, one becomes a citizen by virtue of being born in the US), or by blood (one becomes a citizen by virtue of having one or more parents who are citizens, also known as Jus sanguinis).

Japan is a Jus sanguinis state, meaning that the critical factor in determining citizenship is your heritage (having parents who are Japanese), and not where you were born.

There are three ways you can qualify for Japanese citizenship:

  1. One or both of your parents is a Japanese citizen at the time of your birth.
  2. Your father was a Japanese national, but died before your birth.
  3. You were born on Japanese soil to parents who are stateless or of unknown nationality.

How to get Japanese Citizenship (Naturalization)

Don’t meet any of the above requirements? You may still be able to get Japanese citizenship through naturalization. Naturalization is the process whereby a long-term foreign resident can become a citizen of their host country.

In Japan, the requirements for naturalization are:

  • You must be at least 20 years old.
  • You must have resided in Japan for at least five years.
  • “Upright conduct”, ie a history of good behavior.
  • Has never been part of an organization that has plotted to overthrow the government of Japan.
  • Financial resources and wherewithal (employable, etc.) to be able to support yourself.
  • You must be stateless, or willing to renounce your existing nationality.

Note that the last requirement is necessary because it is not allowed to have Japan Dual Citizenship.

Applying for Japanese Citizenship

Once you meet all of the above requirements for Japanese Citizenship, your application must be submitted to the Japanese Ministry of Justice. Even if you meet all of the aforementioned requirements, acceptance is never a foregone conclusion.

If you’re interested in obtaining Japanese Citizenship, you should first make sure that you are familiar with all aspects of Japan Law. In many aspects Japanese law (and some argue, Japanese society) is unfriendly to foreigners, providing them with unequal treatment and prejudice. You should be aware of what you’re getting into.

Additional Reading on Japanese Citizenship

What to do if you can’t get citizenship but want to live in Japan

If you’re just interested in living in Japan, you don’t need to acquire Japanese citizenship in order to live in Japan. Most foreigners who live in Japan (even those who live there for a long time) are in Japan legally under a residency permit.

There are various types of residency permits depending upon the purpose and duration of your stay. In general they are granted for things like tourism, study, work, or for the spouse of a Japanese citizen.

Since a complete discussion of Japanese Residency Permits is beyond the scope of this article, I’ll just point you towards a few of the more helpful resources out there:

5 responses to “Japanese Citizenship”

  1. gmy

    I would just like to ask something regarding japanese naturalization. If ever I was able to change my citizenship, do my 2 kids (9y.o &11y.o) also be naturalized?

  2. MA LOURDES JANE TELLO PEPITO

    My father was born in yokohama,japan, can I apply for a japanese citizenship?

  3. nowakikun

    Just a query, If I have a Japanese dad and Filipino Mom, and I am currently 22y/o, is there a possibility that I can acquire a japanese nationality or citizenship even if my dad and mom are divorced already? I am carrying my dad’s family name though and currently I am a Filipino Citizen.

  4. Glo

    I have a friend that is Japanese (Born in Shikoku) and she dont have any family in Japan, How she can get a Birth Certificate?. She went to the Japan Embassy in Dominican Republic but they told her that they can help with that. They are some way to do this process?

  5. Becoming a Japanese Citizen: Rights, Responsibilities, and Accessibility | Tomoko's Blog

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