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日本人になりましょう ! ! !

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be Japanese? Okay, still, you might find this interesting.

Naturalizing as a citizen of Japan requires the approval of the Minister of Justice. There are three procedural ways to get this.

Standard naturalization (futsu kika)

There are six basic requirements for standard naturalization.

  1. Five years of continuous residence in Japan. Doesn't matter how many places within Japan, as long as you live in Japan for the whole of five years.
  2. Be 20 years of age or older. Kind of sucks if you're living with your parents, but it shouldn't be a problem for most Japanese residents.
  3. Good personal conduct. Any criminal record, even traffic tickets, can jeopardize your application for naturalization. The treatment is rather arbitrary and depends on the gravity of the offense.
  4. Have means to support yourself, and your family if applicable. This means assets. Paupers cannot become Japanese.
  5. Be willing to relinquish your original citizenship.
  6. Respect the Japanese Constitution. No, you may NOT worship the Emperor. Smartass.

An unwritten requirement is that you must be able to read, write and speak Japanese with some degree of limited working proficiency, which shouldn't be too hard if you've been there for five years. Having a Japanese spouse also helps, but is not required.

Simplified naturalization (kan'i kika)

The five-year requirement for standard naturalization is reduced to three years if you:

  • Are the non-adoptive child of a Japanese national
  • Were born in Japan
  • Have a non-adoptive parent who was born in Japan

In addition:

  • The residency requirement is reduced to three years and the age requirement is waived if you are the spouse of a Japanese national
  • The residency requirement is reduced to one year and the age requirement is waived if you have been the spouse of a Japanese national for three years.
  • The residency requirement, age requirement and asset requirement are all waived if:
    • You are the non-adoptive child of a Japanese national and are domiciled in Japan
    • You are the adoptive child of a Japanese national, have lived in Japan for one year and have not yet reached the age of 20
    • You have lost Japanese nationality and live in Japan
    • You were born in Japan without nationality and have lived there for three consecutive years

Major naturalization (dai-kika)

In addition to the above, the Minister of Justice may naturalize people whenever he or she pleases, if they have provided some sort of "meritorious service" to Japan, e.g. fighting off a kaiju attack.

After these processes take place

Once the Japanese government determines that you are qualified, you will need to supply a birth certificate, passport, your parents' marriage certificate and your own, and any other documentation related to your immediate family (police records, etc). These are used in creating your koseki or family register, which will prove your existence in the Japanese system.

You will then need to fill out an application and supply some basic financial information... the sort of stuff that would go on your IRS Form 1040. They will also ask for every address you have ever lived at since birth. Seriously.

Next, your application will be sent off to Bureaucrat Land where some people whom you will never meet will scrutinize every last kanji and make sure you're not Usama bin Laden or Spiro Agnew.

Finally, if all goes well, you will be called to your local office and be asked to stamp your inkan to a document that renounces your original citizenship and proclaims you to be Officially Japanese. Prepare to ride on crowded trains every day. Rejoice in the fact that you can make everything smaller and cheaper.

You definitely won't be alone: about 10,000 gaijin become nihonjin every year. Almost all are Koreans, from both North and South: the remaining hundred or so are oddballs like Lafcadio Hearn, Akebono Taro, and Konishiki Yasokichi.


...postscript: how the hell did I forget about Will Adams?
dokool says no dual citizenship?

Dual citizenship is illegal in Japan but legal in the United States. You can always lie to the Japanese authorities, i.e. "Ohhhh yeahhhh, I told the embassy all aboooout it. Uh-huh...." As long as you don't use your American citizenship in Japan, they won't know the difference, or so I'm told. (Ask your friendly neighborhood consulate about this. Don't take my word for it. Please. You don't need to go to a Japanese prison.)

sources: www.debito.org - http://www.gyosei.or.jp/qanda/qanda_kokusai.html - Nationality Act (国籍法)

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