TT-458 -- Dual Nationality, ebiz news from Japan

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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, February 24, 2008 Issue No. 458


- What's new
- News
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
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With all the recent goings on for foreigners over
immigration entry requirements, it is easy to think that
the Japanese Justice Ministry especially has it in for
non-Japanese. But that isn't true. They are just as tough
on their own citizens who want to be dual nationals.

After publishing Terrie's Take 456 about our opinions on
why the immigration authorities are tightening up, we
received some interesting email from Japanese readers
wondering why immigration is picking on them as dual
nationals, as well.

Most readers will know that Japan allows only one
nationality. However, for the longest time, so long as a
person was registered as a Japanese citizen first, whether
or not you had gained a second nationality was politely
ignored by the authorities. You just had to make sure that
you didn't make it too obvious that you held a separate

But now it appears that things are changing and the Justice
Ministry seems to be conducting checks on Japanese citizens
living overseas to make sure that they do not have dual
nationality. For a sense of the situation, here is an
extract from one reader's letter:

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

"...I recently decided, after many years as a green card
holder, to apply for US citizenship. This was partly
triggered by the increasing tension of the US immigration
process, which has understandably changed in attitude since
9/11. The tipping point for me was when a lawyer in Japan
advised me that although dual citizenships are technically
forbidden in Japan, it is a law that is not enforced.

Before I could complete my application process, however, I
was told by another person that things in fact had changed.
I confirmed this with the authorities. It seems that if
you are Japanese and you renew your Japanese passport at
your local US consulate, when you go to pick it up you are
asked to show your green card or other residency
documentation which allows you to be in the US. If you
cannot produce this documentation, and you wouldn't be able
to if you held a US passport, they won't hand over your new
Japanese passport. Apparently this is how they are now
catching dual citizens living abroad.

To avoid this, I could renew my passport in Tokyo, but if I
do, I have to show them my juminhyo [Ed: personal register
of your residency matters]. That means I have to
re-establish residency and live back in Japan for a few
months -- which of course is difficult to do when one has a
career to fulfill.

With all the dual Japanese nationals living abroad, it
seems to be bad policy to make people have to sneak around
the dual nationality issue. Japan needs to maintain and
grow its population, not shrink it. And chances are that
many of those people living abroad are either decent wage
earners contributing tax back to Japan, retirees who take
their health care costs with them, or simply good emissaries
for Japanese culture..."

Our thanks to the reader submitting this succinct summation
of the dual nationality problem. Two issues come to mind:
1) not only people resident overseas, there is an
increasing problem with dual nationals back here in Japan,
as the children of 37,000 (approx.) international marriages
a year start to come of age, and 2) might it be that
Japan's cooperation on fingerprinting databases with the
USA and elsewhere will lead to an increased enforcement of
the policy as well?

1. As a study by Sean Curtin, a former professor at the
International University of Japan in Niigata found, the
average number of children had by couples of an
international marriage in Japan is 2.9, more than 3 times
the average number of kids had by a Japanese-only couple
living in Tokyo (national average is higher at 1.23).
Further, of the 700,000 or so marriages a year, the 37,000
international ones comprise about 5%-6% of the total. By
inference, then, it is likely that somewhere between 50,000
to 180,000 kids of mixed-nationality parents are born in
Japan each year.

And each one of these dual national kids, most raised at
home in one culture and at school in another, after turning
20 (plus an additional 2 year's grace) has to choose which
parent's nationality they want to take. We think it's a
morally bankrupt question to force on those kids. It
thrusts upon them the cold reality of the Japanese judicial
concept of one allegiance, one home -- also, we believe,
the same reason why there is no judicial acceptance of
joint custody of children in Japan.

It's not hard to imagine that if the child has a parent
from a poor country, indeed, most foreign mothers here are
from developing Asian countries, then they will choose to
be Japanese, despite any personal feelings of
discrimination and disadvantage that they have probably
been subjected to throughout their lives. If the child's
parent is from a first world country, then the choice is
more likely to be for the other country.

And so Japan loses one potential contributor to its
future, and gains a less than happy second one.

We interviewed some mixed-nationality kids who are nearing
adulthood, asking them about what they thought of being
forced to choose. The common response was that they wanted
to keep both nationalities, but if forced, those that
experienced the most discrimination didn't want to remain

2. According to 2005 government statistics, one third of
all the approximately 1m (now probably around 1.1m)
Japanese living overseas are resident in the USA. They are
joined by an additional 115,000 Japanese who are considered
permanent expatriates. Interestingly, the stats come from
the Ministry of Justice, and carry the comment that it
knows that a large number of Japanese living overseas are
in fact dual nationals. One wonders when they are going to
start acting over this information.

Perhaps the answer lies with the new immigration
fingerprinting system being used on foreign residents and
visitors. In implementing this screening system, the
Japanese government has started sharing a US fingerprint
tracking database, and within the year it will share with
other countries as well. Although we're assured that the
data is private, we are equally sure that the Ministry of
Justice will be "fascinated" by the opportunity to analyze
migration data of Japanese nationals drawn from other
countries' ingress-egress points -- something that they're
unable to do in Japan. In fact, this could be happening
right now.

The scenario is obvious: a Japanese national uses their
passport to exit Japan, then the same person should be
trackable as they enter the USA. If they don't show up,
but they were on a given US-bound flight, then clearly
they either have a green card or they are a dual national.

But apart from consular checks overseas, it is not clear
that the government has chosen to act on a wide scale yet.
Indeed, it knows many Japanese are dual nationals and
until now has allowed people to maneuver around this
inconvenient fact.

So how do people manage to keep both passports?

Firstly, they make sure that they are registered as
Japanese first, since other countries allowing dual
nationality do not require the new citizen to announce
their new status to their original country. Secondly, in
becoming a citizen of the second country, the Japanese
national ensures that they maintain their juminhyo in
Japan. This means that they pay taxes, vote, etc., just
as if they are expecting to return to Japan. It is a
cumbersome arrangement, but basically this is the price
they pay for the flexibility offered by being dual

Thirdly, they use their passports in a way that doesn't
challenge the status quo. The rule for usage is
important: Japanese passports for entry and departure from
Japan, and the other nationality passports for entry and
departure from the other country. Never show the other
country's passport when entering Japan. If you do, and if the
consequences are followed through, the Japanese government
can (and threatens to on its web site) strip the Japanese
citizen of their nationality.

We end by saying that this is a crazy situation. On the one
hand, we have a possible crack down on hundreds of
thousands of people and a deliberate policy of alienating
(pun intended) all these potential citizens. On the other
hand, we have a government panel that advised back in
December the government should spend up to JPY2.44trn
(US$22bn) on measures to help counter the declining birth

Since the number of people likely to lose their citizenship
amounts to 5%-10% of the birth rate, we suggest that part
of that JPY2.44trn outlay be spent on making a phone call
to the Justice Ministry to prepare legislation allowing
Japanese to do what many have practiced for generations
-- become law-abiding citizens of the countries of both of
their parents.

The remainder of the money could be spent on nursing homes
for those loyal citizens who decided to grow old at home...

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Horie back on stage
- Mickey for the elderly
- Man with ugly wig at girl's school
- Download sales up 41%
- Supermini tomatoes hit store shelves

-> Horie back on stage

Remember Takafumi Horie, the fallen leader of Livedoor? He
is now back in court fighting his appeal against conviction
for securities fraud. Horie's lawyers are basing the appeal
on 3 issues: 1) his claim he didn't do it, his suboordinate
Miyauchi is to blame, 2) the dubious nature of Miyauchi's
testimony -- after all he admitted defrauding Horie, 3) the
harsh sentence handed down by the court, while similar
cases have resulted in little or no prison time. Until the
appeal case is heard, which will take several months, Horie
is out on bail of JPY500m (US$4.7m). (Source: TT commentary
from, Feb 22, 2008)

-> Mickey for the elderly

In a nod to the reality of Japan's aging population, Tokyo
Disneyland is offering a discounted season ticket to senior
citizens. Those over 60 will be able to get in with a 22%
discount. The Times article which covered this news says
that the operators of Tokyo Disneyland are trying to boost
visitor attendance numbers in celebration of the park's
25th anniversary, and that they are hoping for more than
26m visitors this year. (Source: TT commentary from, Feb 22, 2008)

-> Man with ugly wig at girl's school

We couldn't help including this one. Apparently a 39-year
old man was arrested after he tried to enter a girls high
school dressed in a girl's uniform and a long wig. Students
screamed and the man fled -- only to be caught by a school
clerk further down the road! ***Ed: If only all school
incursions were so non-violent and easily solved.**
(Source: TT commentary from, Feb 22, 2008)

-> Download sales up 41%

The Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) has
announced that local sales of music downloads jumped 41% in
2007, to JPY75.48bn (US$705m). Mobile phone downloads were
up 41% to JPY68.01bn and downloads to PCs rose 18%. ***Ed:
PC downloads were up a massive 170% in 2006, and thus the
18% simply means downloads have plateaued for the time
being. (Source: TT commentary from, Feb 22,

-> Supermini tomatoes hit store shelves

The Nikkei recently highlighted a new vegetable trend --
supermini tomatoes, which measure just 8mm across. The tiny
red, green, or yellow tomatoes apparently taste less sweet
than regular ones, but because of their size are popular
in food applications wherever color and strength are
required. This includes convenience store salads and pasta,
baked goods, and apparently even cakes. The tomatoes sell
for JPY1,800 (US$16.80) per 150 grams -- ten times the
price of regular mini tomatoes. (Source: TT commentary from, Feb 21, 2008)

NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources remove their articles after just a
few days of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we
apologize for the inconvenience.


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office kei inc., the japanese tv production company in new york has closed. mr. hide miyauchi was fired from his assignment as presdient and the few remaining employees of the company have been dismissed. office kei is co owned with sfinx production in tokyo. office kei had been in business for 20 years producing programming for all major tv newtworks in japan including nhk and tokyo tv. akira shimokawa who once did sales for the company now reportedly is working as a food server at a japanes restaurant in queens, new york. the company reportedly lost millions o dollars during miyauchi's tenure and was foreced to litigate several lawsuits. topspin television in new york will reportedly pick up most of its clients.