My Future, My Nationality

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Tomoki Bischel

When we students think about our future, we tend to think about graduating school, job hunting, or other facts. I too also think about these facts and feel worried. However, when I think about my future, the first thing that comes in mind is about choosing my nationality. I was born and grew up in Japan, but since I was born half American and half Japanese, I have both nationalities. In Japan, the ministry of justice requires citizens who have a dual nationality to choose either one by the age of 22. Since I will be 20 this year and I only have 2 years left to decide, I am starting to think about this seriously. When thinking about which nationality I should choose, the word ibasho which we discussed in our class came to my mind.

I believe there are many definitions for the word ibasho. For me, ibasho is a place where you feel secure and happy; like when you’re with your friends or family, and I believe our nationality is also one of them to us. Although I was rose in Japan, I had many chances to go to America to meet my relatives. So, for me, not only Japan but America is also one of my ibasho. So, when it comes to have to choose my nationality, it sometimes feels like I have to choose my ibasho and feels almost impossible to choose only one. Some may say that choosing your nationality may not be the same as choosing your ibasho, since you don’t need a nationality to go to a country. However, not having a nationality can narrow choices that you have. For example, if I decide to choose America as my nationality, I won’t be able have suffrage in Japan even though I was born and grew up in this country.

I only have two years left to choose my nationality, and as I have mentioned, this would probably be one of the biggest choices that I will make in life. Having have to choose a nationality, I have a sort of fear against how the other country will look once I choose a nationality. Anyhow, I hope to be able to make a choice that I won’t regret in the future; a choice that will most help me in the future. For me, a nationality isn’t just a passport, it’s my ibasho.

Identity problem from Dual citizenship

by Sungryoung Yoon

Dual citizenship is a status in which a person has two citizenships under the law. The number of the countries which allow dual citizenship has been increased by globalization like a lot of immigration. The United States is one of the representative countries which is multicultural country and also allow this system in the world. However Japanese government still doesn’t allow this system today. Japanese government forces people to choose one nationality when people get 22 years old. I think that system of dual citizenship will be one of the ways which helps solving the problem of people’s identity. I guess only one national system in Japan constrict one’s identity who have some roots so I would like to talk about good point of dual citizenship for identity problem. I am going to talk two different styles of people who have some different roots.

First one I will talk here is hafu style. Hafu people naturally get two different roots or more than two different roots from their parents when they were born, and then they grow up with their different roots. It should be so difficult for people who have some roots to choose only one nationality because different roots grow people’s identity naturally. For example, I have one friend whose father is from the United States and mother is from Japan. She was grown up in Japan until 6 years old and then she moved to the United States. She had to choose one nationality when she got 22 years old because of Japanese system even if she speaks both English and Japanese so well and she loves both cultures too. She didn’t want to throw away Japanese nationality if she could because she feels her identity is made by both. She told me when we talked about identity problems. Japanese government forced her to choose only one nationality even if her identity comes from both roots.

Second style is a foreigner living in Japan. I pick one example about Korean who were born in Japan and the United States. I am one of this example because I was born in Japan with Korean nationality. I was grown up in Japan and went to Japanese school and my almost friends were only Japanese before I go to Korea last year. My personality adapted to Japanese society but nationality is Korean. I was so surprised when I met a lot of Korean who were in the United States. They asked me why I do not have dual citizenship and told me Japanese government should give me the chance to choose. I hadn’t thought until then I could choose nationality but if I could have two citizenship, I think something would change to my identity problem.

I know a lot of problems will happen like government problem if we introduce dual citizenship system to Japanese society. However I don’t think it is the best way to force people to choose nationality because identity comes to people so naturally. Dual citizenship will make big helpful for people who have different roots more than bad points.

Dual Citizenship in Japan

BASIC MEANING

Dual citizenship occurs when one person acquires nationality from more than one country. This can happen when a child is born of parents of mixed nationality or of parents who are living in country other than that of their citizenship.

CURRENT SITUATION

Nowadays, a child born in Japan of mixed parents would be eligible for both Japanese citizenship and the citizenship of their foreign parents. However, Japan takes a stricter view of individuals holding more than one nationality, since the situations and laws can easily become a bit complex. Therefore, when young people become adult, about 22, they have to choose their citizenship.

Unlike many countries that tolerate but not officially endorse dual citizenship, Japan chooses to take restrictions on dual nationality. Thus, when a Japanese national holding a foreign nationality turns 20, they will be required to choose on sole citizenship within 2 years.

THE GOVERNMENTAL MEASRURES ABOUT HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR NATIONALITY

For Japanese citizens holding a foreign nationality, there are two methods of declaring a single nationality. One is abandoning the foreign nationality, the other one is swearing to Japanese nationality. When the time comes to choose one nationality, people are usually supposed to think carefully and make the right decision.

MY OWN OPINION

In my own opinion, the actively cracking down on dual nationality in Japan may be a wise choice, even though the practice to require one to make a decision seems a little cruel. But what I am thinking of is that it’s better for one to choose which country one belongs to. In this way, it will be more clearly who is responsible for you, but you don’t have to cut the tie with the other country. It’s just like choosing your belief. To our motherland, we should become a faithful, loyal and devoted national.

By Yan Yinyan