Tokyo getting more anal about dual nationality

Japan’s ban on dual nationality is less toothless than it used to be, as the government finds creative ways to keep people from maintaining multiple passports. Terrie Lloyd‘s e-mail newsletter this week quotes an unidentified source who says:

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. 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.

Note that this particular procedure only affects people living outside Japan. Dealing with Japanese nationals resident in Japan while retaining a foreign passport is still much trickier to visualize, although with the new fingerprinting and photographing systems, anything is possible…

12 thoughts on “Tokyo getting more anal about dual nationality”

  1. What are the residency requirements for a Japanese citizen to get issues a juuminhyou? I would imagine that it would be pretty simple, myself. Just use your honseki if you have to. Would that work?

  2. That’s a good question. I don’t know how things work behind the scenes at the passport office or in the juminhyo section at city hall.

  3. I do know that you need both your juuminhyou and your honseki to apply for a passport. Just applied last week myself as I have just got japanese nationality.

    I am going back to my original country in a couple of weeks and am wondering about what passport to use. Obviously leaving and entering japan I will use my japanese one. But if I use the passport of my original country to enter there, when I get back to japan there will be no entry/exit stamps of my destination country on my japanese passport. Which will leave the japan authorities with the singular conclusion that I have 2 passports.

    Might just try doing this (using the japan passport for exit/entry to japan and my other one for that country) this time and then if questioned I can say that I have not given up my original nationality yet. I have 2 years to do this from the time of getting japanese nationality.

    Any tips anyone?!

  4. I wouldn’t worry about that, zeus. Even if immigration cares to check (they don’t, in my experience) there are still cases where your passport isn’t stamped at all. The US is one frequent offender: Japan, with the new fast-track system, is becoming another, and there are places like Israel where it’s more common to not get the stamp than it is to get the stamp.

    In any case, it’s very difficult for immigration to obstruct a national’s entry to their own country. Not only would this cause a colossal political stink, it also raises questions of international law (most consider it a fundamental human right to be able to go home). In Japan’s case, of course, they could argue that you never really were a national, but this is difficult for them to say when you have a real government-issued microchipped passport in your hand.

  5. Joe, great article.

    Zeus, what was your original nationality? In the beginning I would use your J-passport a few times to get it “well used,” and thus “prove” that you have Japanese nationality through use. The first time they might feel they can take it away from you, but once you’ve got travel experience you should be more secure.

  6. Joe, I don’t know about US citizens, but I have *always* got a stamp on arrival as a non-citizen. Never on leaving though – there being no formal exit procedures. No wonder overstaying is such an issue if they can’t even be arsed to make sure you left.

    I can’t see any reason not to use your Japanese passport for a visit to your old country. Once there, you can use your original passport if you want to claim any rights (work, stay for longer than normal tourist period, etc). The only exception would be for countries where Japanese citizens require visas – Australia, for example.

  7. As a citizen, I get a stamp about half the time going through the US. I’m looking at my passport right now, which I got in 2003, and my track record is as follows:

    Detroit, Mar. 04: No stamp
    Miami, May 04: No stamp
    Dallas, Jul. 05: No stamp
    Dallas, Mar. 06: No stamp
    Dallas, Dec. 06: No stamp
    Chicago, Apr. 07: Stamp
    Chicago, Nov. 07: Stamp
    Guam, Jan. 08: No stamp
    Saipan, Jan. 08: No stamp
    Washington, Feb. 08: Stamp

    I’m actually surprised that they are not more diligent about this, since the amount of time a non-resident citizen spends in the US directly affects their US tax liability. Passport stamps would be a good way to audit this.

    I can’t see any reason not to use your Japanese passport for a visit to your old country.

    This depends on which old country it was. For instance, a US citizen cannot use a non-US passport to enter the US. One dual citizen I know tried to enter on a foreign passport once when he lost his US passport, and he was detained until he provided proof of US citizenship (a social security card). Japan has a similar law. On the other hand, I have been to Ireland many times on a US passport despite being an Irish citizen. So be wary of whatever your home country’s law is.

  8. “One dual citizen I know tried to enter on a foreign passport once when he lost his US passport, and he was detained until he provided proof of US citizenship (a social security card).”

    How did they know he was a citizen? Couldn’t he have been, say, just a guy with the same name? Japan I assume has a similar law because Japan does not allow dual citizenship: if you are a citizen of Japan you cannot be a citizen of anywhere else. Though again, I am not sure how they would catch you. What sort of information flashes up on their computer screens?

  9. I’m not sure how it works on the inside, either. The person I cited was “coming home” and might have been trapped because he did not specify when he was leaving the country. That doesn’t mean that you’re safe simply by pretending to be a tourist. I would imagine that the amount of information shared between various databases is constantly increasing.

  10. Great site, don’t know how I didn’t come across it before.

    About your warning about Akismet below, my Akismet account stores all the spam for a few days, so I just have to go through it to check that nothing has gone in there by mistake- which, as you say, is quite often

Comments are closed.