Japanese Citizenship System

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Japanese Citizenship System


I find the Japanese Citizenship System is interesting.

Many times I get asked by friends and family to explain the Japanese Citizenship System but since I’ve never experienced it my self, I have trouble getting my facts completely straight. I just saw this post by a guy named Peter who lives in Japan and owns a very successful business. I read his blog quite often for some interesting inside information and So I thought everyone I know should read this post he made, for it explains the system in good detail.

Last time I talked about Donald Keene, the Japanese scholar and translator who came to Japan and took Japanese citizenship, and I thought I’d expand on that a bit. It’s quite easy for residents of Japan to become naturalized citizens if they desire it, with the basic rules being five years of consecutive residence in Japan, a history of good behavior, and basic Japanese language skills. In the past anyone wanting Japanese citizenship was required to legally take a Japanese name in officially-designated kanji characters.  While I’m all in favor of writing Western names in kanji characters , this requirement led to strained relations with Japan’s large Korean minority, who maintained South or North Korean nationality in part because they were insulted by the idea of taking a Japanese name. While most countries including the U.S. have no issue with allowing dual citizenship, Japan officially requires that anyone desiring to be naturalized renounce citizenship in any other country; however this appears to be a classic case of tatemae (a facade, a social rule that’s ignored by everyone in practice), and the requirement is not enforced in practice. Incidentally, I live in Japan on a permanent residence visa (eijuken), not bothering to get Japanese citizenship because, as my wife points out, I’m more interesting as an American than a Japanese who’s is bad at kanji. (If you have more questions about possibly living in Japan, there’s a handbook for that .)

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