Japan Upholds Dual Citizenship Ban

On 21 January, Tokyo District Court rejected the case of eight Japanese expatriates living in Europe, who challenged the constitutionality of the dual citizenship ban. They maintained that provisions on ex lege loss of nationality envisaged in article 11 of the Japanese Nationality Law violate the right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’, guaranteed in article 13 of Japan’s constitution, as well as the freedom to expatriate enshrined in article 22 of the country’s highest legal act. The plaintiffs maintained that the dual citizenship ban is an institutional legacy from the Empire of Japan, where plural allegiance was not tolerated due to military service. Yet the prohibition of dual citizenship cannot accommodate the modern globalised and interconnected world.

The Court rejected these arguments in favour of the government that maintained that the dual citizenship ban expresses Japanese national interest and has the purpose of avoiding ‘confusion in issues such as diplomatic custody and tax payments’. Judge Hideaki Mori further stated that allowing dual citizenship for Japanese citizens ‘could cause conflict in the rights and obligations between countries, as well as between the individual and the state’.

Three quarters of the world’s countries nowadays allow or tolerate dual nationality. About 900,000 Japanese are estimated to hold dual citizenship, obtained through birth or marriage. The Nationality Law would require them to renounce their foreign nationality, but the government has rarely enforced the rule. For more information on the citizenship law