Should Japan allow dual citizenship?

by Ryuhei Sugiyama

Today, in international society, some countries such as the U.S., Australia, and Canada allow people to have dual citizenships legally. In these countries, there are a lot of immigrants from other countries and various types of races. Therefore, the rate of international marriage or over-ethic marriage is higher than the countries that do not allow people to have dual citizenship like Japan. Japanese government does not allow dual citizenship because of a bias or stereotype that “Japan is the homogeneous nation.” According to the Constitution of Japan, Japanese people who have dual citizenship must choice either of two by 22 years old. If people choice the citizenships of other country, they legally treated as “foreigner” through their life in Japan.

To be begin with, why do people have two citizenships? This is because each country adopt different requirement to give citizenship to the people. Some country adopt Jus sanguinis, the notion that regards blood of their parents as important, and some country adopt Jus soli, the notion that regards birth of place as important. Until international society standardizes the requirement of the citizenship, those who have dual citizenship will exist in the future. In addition, the extinction of the stateless person is also one of the biggest problems of international society because these people cannot get any protection or rights, and this strengthens the possibility of violation of fundamental human rights. From these reasons, people are given a citizenship, or in some cases given two citizenships.

There are some merits for people who have dual citizenships. First, these people can come and go both two countries easily because they do not have to get the visa. These people have relatives in both countries, so this convenience is helpful for them. Second, it relates to the determent of wars by increasing the number of people who have plural patriotisms on plural countries. This claim is argued positively in the U.S.

Even if dual citizenship has some merits, Japanese government do not allow it. According to the opinion of the Ministry of Justice, dual citizenship will make legal unfairness between people who have it and who do not have it. In addition, increasing the number of people who do not have the patriotism on Japan will have a bad effect on Japan. For these reasons, government force people to choose the citizenship into one.

In the end, should Japan allow people to have dual citizenship? Actually, dual citizenship has strong merits, and these merits are very helpful for them. However, the unfairness also cannot be overlooked. On one occasion, dual citizenship is profitable for them, but on another occasion, it is unfavorable for them. On the other hand, the way of giving the citizenship also has a problem. Japan adopt the way base on the blood of their parents. In this way, for example, people who have American parents and grow up in Japan cannot get the citizenship of Japan nevertheless they may have an identity as Japanese. However, that is not to say the way that bases on the place of birth is good. The important thing is preparing rules for forming individual identities, not imposing of them. Come to think of this, dual citizenship should be allowed after all because the choice of citizenship may mean the imposing of an identity. Today, the number of “hafu” is increasing sharply in Japan, and the condition drastically changed the one in half century ago. Therefore, today’s laws are not enough to correspond to the complex situation in Japan. Government should prepare rules in older to cope with complex situation flexibly, and admitting of dual citizenship may one of the solution of it.


The choice of nationality. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

The different treatment of dual citizenship. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from

The treatment of dual citizenship. Retrieved May 8, 2013 from


6 thoughts on “Should Japan allow dual citizenship?

      • You are very smart and I agree with everything said here. With the wajin birth rate in its current decline, this debate will happen sooner rather than later, I think.

    • Group 1: Japan needs to offer citizenship to all oversea born and Japanese born Japanese who have acquired foreign nationality first.

      Group 2: those who are of ethically non Japanese or of mixed ancestry. Naturalizing zainichi Koreans or Chinese before those in group 1 should not occur.

      • That is a real right wing Japanese mentality. Knowing Japan, the mindset would definitely sway this way. It will probably occur at a time when they would want to tax all Japanese based on citizenship rather than residency. It will occur at the very moment it will be unattractive for overseas Japanese to maintain their “COSTLY” citizenship due to population decline.

  1. Japan will have to allow dual nationality in stages. First step is to let pure blooded Japanese born Japanese who naturalized abroad to retain their nationality. Then those who are born abroad to parents who are both Japanese. Next is naturalizing pure blooded nikkeijin. Subjecting an exam that is more stringent than JLPT level 1 so that you don’t have the problem of having someone becoming Japanese that only speaks Portugese for example. This way there is more success in opening up Japan slowly. Bringing in Haafus and mestizos can happen in the next step.

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