Comment on the Revision of the Nationality Law
The revised Nationality Law was enacted today. Responding to the decision rendered by the Grand Bench of the Supreme Court on June 4, 2008, which held that the Nationality Law was unconstitutional, the revision allows children born out of wedlock to obtain Japanese nationality even if the father or mother who has Japanese nationality acknowledges parenthood after birth whether or not the parents are married. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) pointed out in June 1996 that the provision of the Nationality Law which required the marriage of the parents for granting Japanese nationality violated Article 14-1 of the Constitution of Japan, Article 24, etc. of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and thus urged the Government to amend the law. The JFBA appreciates that this revision was made in line with our position.
However, children who reached 20 years of age as of January 1, 2003, are not relieved by this revision (Article 3 of the Supplementary Provisions). These children should also be allowed to obtain Japanese nationality as the JFBA has been arguing.
The JFBA urges the Government
- to widely publicize this revision to ensure that all children who are subject to be relieved are allowed to obtain Japanese nationality,
- to ensure that municipal governments operate flexibly in receiving applications of foreign mothers by approving alternative evidence for those who have difficulty submitting the necessary foreign materials to prove their status,
- to give special consideration for children who are not relieved by this revision if they apply for naturalization or status of residence, and
- to consider the verification of a father-child relationship stated in the supplementary resolutions on the basis of the principle of equality.
In addition, foreign mothers whose children have obtained Japanese nationality should, as a general rule, be allowed to enter and reside in Japan taking into consideration the best interests of the children in line with the above mentioned ruling of the Supreme Court.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
December 5, 2008