A foreign-born Japanese (Japanese:日本国籍取得者, nihon kokuseki shitokusha, literally "person who has acquired Japanese citizenship") are Japanese people of foreign descent or heritage, is a person who was originally born outside Japan and later acquired Japanese citizenship. This category encompasses persons of both Japanese and non-Japanese descent. The former subcategory is considered because of intricacies of national and international laws regarding the citizenship of newborn persons.

Legal issues

By Japanese laws, adult persons generally cannot hold both foreign citizenship and Japanese citizenship (dual nationality):

  • those who have acquired dual nationality before age 20 must choose a single nationality before reaching age 22.
  • those who have acquired dual nationality after age 20 must choose a single nationality in 2 years.

Many who naturalize as Japanese also adopt a Japanese name, although this is not required.

No law forbids a foreign-born Japanese to be elected as a member of Diet (as Marutei Tsurunen in fact became one). Theoretically, therefore, a foreign-born Japanese can become the Prime Minister of Japan. If this were to happen, it would repeat what happened in France in 2005, when Moroccan-born Dominique de Villepin, a member of the French National Assembly, was appointed Prime Minister. It would also repeat what has happened in Canada, the US and Israel many times since their respective foundings. Prominent politicians, born outside Canada, the US or Israel, but serving in a Canadian, American or Israeli legislature, have included former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (born in what is now Ukraine), British-born former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner and Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a former member of the US House of Representatives

Probably because of the difficulty of gaining citizenship and because of cultural difference, foreign-born Japanese people account for a very small percentage of the demography in Japan. Many who are born and live in Japan permanently, particularly Korean and Chinese, tend to maintain their citizenship. There has been a constant discussion among the government and lawmakers whether to give them some status similar to that of a permanent resident in the United States.

This contrasts with countries, such as most of those in Western Europe, Poland, Canada, the US, Australia, Israel and most Arab states, where people born natively are allowed to hold dual nationality, even if they are not automatically given the citizenship of their country of birth. In some cases, people born in those countries automatically acquire the citizenship of their country of birth.

Europeans in Japan, Japanese people of European heritage, European is fluent in Japanese.

European heritage

Japanese people of European descent.

Japanese by naturalization

See also

Japanese born abroad


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