Citizenship In Japan

Citizenship In Japan: All You Need To Know 

Acquiring Japanese citizenship is a profound journey, blending legal processes with cultural integration. Looking to become a Japanese resident? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered!

For those seeking to fully immerse themselves in the Japanese way of life, understanding the pathway to citizenship is crucial. This article offers a comprehensive overview of the requirements, procedures, and nuances involved in becoming a Japanese citizen, providing a clear roadmap for your journey towards calling Japan your permanent home.

Let’s dive in!

What Does It Mean To Have Japanese Citizenship?

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Becoming a citizen of Japan provides you with a lot of benefits by granting you the complete set of the same rights as those of Japanese-born citizens. These include, for example:

  • The right to vote in elections. Naturalized citizens are expected to participate in elections.
  • The right to run for public office. For example, for a local assembly or even for the Diet.
  • The right to become a civil servant. For example, a judge, a prosecutor, the police, or even the Self-Defence Forces.
  • To travel freely in and out of Japan without a re-entry permit and without time limitation.
  • To travel to many countries around the world without a visa since a Japanese passport is one of the world’s most powerful ones.

What Are The Types Of Japanese Citizenship?

A Japanese citizenship can be acquired in the following ways:

  • Citizenship by naturalization.
  • Citizenship by notification.
  • Citizenship by birth.

Obtaining citizenship by naturalization refers to fulfilling specific requirements and going through certain procedures set by the Japanese government to be considered a citizen.

The father, mother, or legal representative must make a notification within three months from the date of birth of the child and indicate an intention to retain Japanese nationality.

The third type, citizenship by birth, entails that if you’re born in Japan, regardless of whether your parents are citizens or not, you can claim Japanese citizenship.

As simple and undemanding as it all may seem, it is still quite challenging to follow the proper procedures and develop the proper documentation required by government officials on time.

Acquiring Citizenship By Naturalization

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Naturalization is a process that confers nationality upon those who are not nationals and wish to acquire nationality. 

In Japan, the permission for naturalization is under the authority of the Minister of Justice, and naturalization takes effect on the day of the notification.

The general conditions for naturalization are as follows:

  • You must have been domiciled in Japan for five years or more consecutively and must have had a valid status of residence throughout the prescribed period.
  • You must be 20 years of age or more and of total capacity to act according to the law of your home country.
  • The person must be of upright conduct. The determination of conduct will be based on social conventions with ordinary individuals as the standard. Considering the existence of a criminal record, their tax payment status, and whether they have disturbed society.
  • The person must be able to secure a livelihood in Japan. This condition will be judged on the basis of a family unit to make a living. Even if an applicant does not have an income, if a secure livelihood can be ensured through the property or skills of their spouse or relatives, this condition will be met.
  • Those who wish to be naturalized must either have no nationality or, in principle, lose their nationality by naturalization. As an exception, in cases where the nationality of the country cannot be lost regardless of the intention of the person, naturalization may be permitted even if this condition is not met 
  • Those who have themselves or have formed or belong to an organization plotting or advocating the overthrow of the Japanese govern

Furthermore, even if these conditions are met, naturalization may only sometimes be permitted. These are the minimum conditions for naturalization in Japan.

Professional Guidance And Assistance

Compiling and organizing the correct documents and following all the procedures in an orderly manner needed to apply for citizenship by naturalization can be a hectic task.

Without having any prior knowledge and a firm grasp on the policies related to obtaining citizenship, it can prove to be quite difficult to embark on this journey.

Having a well-organized legal team assisting you in every manner will be of great help.

Required Documents

You must bring the following documents with you to city hall:

  • Application form
  • Reason why you want to become a Japanese citizen (hand-written in Japanese by the applicant)
  • Resume
  • Written oath
  • Description of your relatives
  • Description of how you make your living in Japan
  • Maps of the vicinity of your residence and workplace
  • Description of your business (If you or your family member is a business owner)
  • Financial statements
  • Business license
  • Company registration
  • Diploma
  • Domestic family documents
  • Proof of citizenship (birth certificate)
  • Certificate of employment
  • Certificate of residence card
  • Certificate of tax payments (with hold slip, income tax returned record)
  • Certificate of your assets (bank deposit, real-estate, securities)
  • Driving record

Upon proving that you meet all the requirements to apply for citizenship by naturalization, you can begin your application process.

Application Process

Obtain an application form from the nearest Regional Immigration Bureau or their website.

Complete the application form carefully. It’s highly recommended to get professional help with this, as mistakes can lead to rejection.

Submit The Application 

Submit your application and documents to the Regional Immigration Bureau responsible for your area. 

Interview And Evaluation 

You will be called for an interview to assess your eligibility. The interview is usually conducted in Japanese. They will evaluate your language skills, knowledge of Japan, and your overall suitability for naturalization.

Background Check

The immigration authorities will conduct a thorough background check, including criminal and tax records.

Naturalization Exam

You may be required to take an exam on Japanese culture, history, and current affairs.

Waiting Period

The processing time for naturalization applications can vary, but it typically takes several months to a year or more. Be prepared for a waiting period.

Decision 

If your application is approved, you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization.

Oath Of Allegiance 

After receiving the Certificate of Naturalization, you must attend a ceremony and take an oath of allegiance to Japan.

Receive Japanese Citizenship

Upon taking the oath, you will officially become a Japanese citizen. Your residence card will be exchanged for a Japanese passport.

It’s crucial to note that the Japanese government has full discretion in approving or denying naturalization applications. Meeting the basic requirements does not guarantee approval.

Pay The Naturalization Fees

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There is a naturalization fee according to your status:

ContentsCosts(excluding tax)
Office Worker(Salaried Employee)¥200,000
President / Board Member(Business Proprietor)¥250,000
Addition to One of the Family Plus(applying for both together)+¥60,000
Addition to Another Company Plus+¥70,000

How To Get Japanese Citizenship By Marriage?

The specific requirements for obtaining citizenship through marriage in Japan include:

  • Residency: The spouse must have lived in Japan for at least 5 years on a long-term visa.
  • Language proficiency: The spouse must demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the Japanese language.
  • Background check: The spouse must pass a background check, including a criminal record check.
  • Marriage: The marriage must be legally recognized in Japan and both partners must be in good standing.
  • Application: The spouse must submit a citizenship application, including supporting documents 
  • Marriage Certificate: You need to provide a valid and legally recognized marriage certificate. This is typically obtained in Japan.

Documents

The documents required are as follows:

  • Residency Requirement: In most cases, you need to have been living in Japan with your Japanese spouse for a certain period of time, usually for at least three years with a valid spouse visa.
  • Background Check: You will need to provide a police background check from your home country and any other countries where you have resided in the past.
  • Proof Of Legal Residency: You should provide proof such as residence cards and registered address details.
  • Japanese language proficiency: This can include taking a language test or attending Japanese language classes.
  • Cultural knowledge: Some local governments may require you to demonstrate knowledge of Japanese culture and customs.
  • Renunciation of previous citizenship: Depending on your home country’s laws and agreements with Japan, you may need to renounce your previous citizenship.
  • Complete naturalization application: You will need to complete a naturalization application form, which can usually be obtained from your local government office or the immigration bureau.
  • Interview and investigation: Expect an interview with immigration officials. They may ask about your relationship with your Japanese spouse, your reasons for seeking citizenship, and other relevant information and a fee.

Other documents may also be asked for according to your specific situation.

Acquiring Citizenship By Notification

Here are the general conditions for Japanese citizenship by notification:

Parentage

To be eligible for Japanese citizenship by notification, at least one of your biological parents must be a Japanese citizen at the time of your birth.

Notification Within Three Months 

You or your parent/legal guardian must file a notification of your birth with the local government office (city or ward office) within three months of your birth. 

This notification registers your birth in the family registry.

  • Birth Registration: The birth registration process includes submitting the necessary documents and completing the required paperwork

Dual Citizenship

Since January 2022, Japan does not allow dual citizenship for adults. 

Accordingly, you may be required to renounce any other citizenship you hold by the age of 22, unless there is an agreement between Japan and your home country that allows dual citizenship.

The documents required for obtaining citizenship by notification are as follows:

  • Notification of Birth
  • Family Registry (with the child’s name included in it)
  • Japanese Parent’s Documents
  • Child’s Identification
  • Residence Status
  • Application Forms
  • Proof of Relationship

Depending on the specific circumstances and the local government’s requirements, you may be asked to provide additional documents or information.

Is It Possible To Obtain Japanese Citizеnship By Invеstmеnt?

The Business must meet certain criterias:

  • Company paid up capital must be at least 5,000,000 yen.
  • Companies must have an office space in Japan.
  • Business plan must be approved by the relevant authorities.
  • Applicants must have enough salary/income to live independently in Japan.
  • Hire at least one full time employee who is either a Japanese national, a Permanent resident, a Spouse or Child of a Japanese National, a Spouse or Child of a Permanent Resident, or a foreign national with a Long-Term visa.

This visa is usually granted for one year. Prior to the visa’s expiration date, you may apply for an extension, provided that requirements are still met. There is no limit on the number of extensions permitted.

Usually, you are eligible for permanent residency after 10 years of continuous legal residence in the country (3 years if married with a Japanese national). 

You will have to provide a written explanation listing the reasons for your application, have strong ties to the country and a good financial position. 

Fluency in the Japanese language and professional awards or honors may positively influence getting the application approved.

This status of residence is granted to immigrants who have scored at least 70 points in their Immigration scorecard. Scores are mainly based on professional qualifications, education level and annual salary. 

This status of residence has a validity of 5 years, and entitles its holder to apply for permanent residence after 3 years. Those scoring over 80 points may apply after just 1 year.

After 5 years living in the country you may be eligible to apply for citizenship. Citizenship might be granted if you have stayed at least more than 290 days per year in the country.

The documents required for citizenship are as follows: 

  • Certificate of Eligibility
  • Dual citizenship is not recognized in Japan. To become a citizen of Japan, you must renounce your previous nationality.
  • Documents Required
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Documents certifying position and salary
  • Certified copy of Business License or Incorporation documents
  • Business Plan
  • Evidence of office space
  • Financial Statement
  • Original and photocopy of passport
  • Two passport-size photos

All documents in foreign languages must be duly translated to Japanese.

Dual Citizenship In Japan As A US/UK National

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One of the criterias for Individuals by which they can acquire dual citizenship is by birth:

  • Being born in the US/UK with at least one Japanese parent,
  • Being born in another country with one Japanese parent, and one US/UK citizen parent who was present in the US/UK for a certain period of time before the birth.

A Japanese national who acquired another nationality by birth or as a child is generally required to make a “declaration of choice” by their 22nd birthday in order to keep their Japanese nationality.

Individuals who attempt to maintain dual nationality in violation of Japanese law should be aware of the potential penalties for doing so.

The Japanese government can determine that an individual lost their Japanese nationality due to choosing the nationality of another country. 

This means, among other things:

  • Their Japanese passports will become invalid, and they will be unable to obtain a new one.
  • If they are in Japan, they may be considered to be illegally present in the country.

Their children may also lose Japanese nationality, potentially invalidating their passports and making them illegally present in Japan.

  • They may face criminal penalties in Japan for falsifying information in their passport application, family registry filings, and other government filings based upon their Japanese nationality.

Common Reasons For Citizenship Denial In Japan

If the application for naturalization is denied, the Ministry of Justice will send a notice of disapproval to the applicant.

However, the reason for the disapproval is not currently stated in the disapproval notice. The reason for disapproval of a naturalization application cannot be told even if you ask the competent legal bureau.

Therefore, if the naturalization application is denied, the direct reason is unknown and can only be speculated.

There are various reasons why a naturalization application may be rejected, but the following cases are common.

  • You did not report to the Legal Affairs Bureau any changes to the application details such as marriage, divorce, moving, or job change that occurred after the application for naturalization was accepted.
  • There was a nonpayment of pensions and taxes
  • Law violations including serious traffic violations were confirmed
  • The content of the application was confirmed to be false or suspicious.
  • You did not respond to the request from the Legal Affairs Bureau to submit additional materials.

Applicants are often said to have a general idea of ​​why they were disapproved.

How To Give Up Japanese Citizenship?

As a Japanese citizen also holding a foreign citizenship , you can renounce your Japanese citizenship by submitting the registration to the Minister of Justice. 

Required Documents:

  • Two Renunciation Report Forms
  • Report forms cannot be downloaded. Please request it by mail.
  • Family Registry (Koseki Tohon only)
  • Can only be obtained in Japan, from the municipal office of your Registered Domicile (Honseki-chi). 
  • Two Affidavits (Certifying U.S. Citizenship)
  • Must be notarized
  • One Translation Form of the Affidavit
  • Anyone can fill this out in Japanese.
  • Original and Copy of the Birth Certificate or Foreign Passport
  • One Translation Form of the Birth Certificate or U.S. Passport
  • Anyone can fill this out in Japanese.
  • Original and Copy of Proof of Residence
  • One Translation of Proof of Residence
  • Japanese Passport
  • One Contact Information Sheet
  • Include your address, e-mail, and phone number. Please be sure that this phone number has voicemail and that the voicemail box is not full.

The “Renunciation Report Form” must be written in Japanese except where English writing is specifically required. On the form, write your name exactly as it appears on your Family Registry.

The “Family Registry” (Koseki Tohon only) must indicate that you hold multiple citizenships from birth. If not, you will need to provide supplemental documents. All English documents will need to be translated into Japanese.

Standard processing times are 2 to 3 months and once the renunciation is complete, the Ministry of Justice will issue a certificate.

Additional supporting documents may be required according to your situation.

If you decide to reapply for Japanese citizenship, the steps to re-apply will be the same as before.

Conclusion

Embarking on the path to Japanese citizenship is a commitment to embracing not just a country, but its rich culture and heritage.

With the guidance provided in this article, you’re well-equipped to navigate the complexities of this process. As you move forward, remember that each step brings you closer to becoming an integral part of the diverse tapestry that is Japan.

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