Voices in Japan
Voices in Japan
Jul 10, 2019
Japan’s Dual Nationality Problem
Play • 46 min

Dual nationality has been in the news lately. The professional tennis player, Naomi Osaka is about to reach her 22nd birthday, when she will have to decide (by Japanese law) which citizenship to have, Japanese or American. We have a very interesting, albeit sensitive, conversation about mixed race issues, citizenship, and national identity. Enjoy!

Conversation highlights:

  • A little chit chat on what the hosts have been up to.
  • Naomi Osaka has to decide between US and Japanese citizenship by her 22nd birthday.
  • From the age of 22 onward, Japanese nationals cannot have more than one citizenship, unlike some countries such as the UK and the US.
  • However, even though this is law in Japan, it has never been officially enforced, so many residents do have dual citizenship.
  • An example story of someone being informed, at immigration, of having dual citizenship yet was not forced to choose one. This shows how relaxed Japan is on this law.
  • “Hafu” or mixed-race Japanese people are not accepted as being Japanese.
  • A half Iranian half Bolivian 16 year old, born and raised in Japan has been threatened with deportation because he is not considered a Japanese citizen by “jus sanguinis” (right of blood), instead is classed as a foreigner overstaying his visa.
  • Mixed-race Japanese who have lived all their lives in Japan, but may not look Japanese face discrimination.
  • Does Burke get treated differently in Japan as someone who is half Japanese and half American?
  • Does Ben get mistaken for being Japanese and does he feel more accepted because of his Asian heritage?
  • The hosts discuss the difficulty for foreigners to make friends with Japanese people and the reasons why.
  • When have our hosts felt the most immersed into Japanese society?
  • Do the hosts feel that they have been accepted into Japanese society?
  • Being a foreigner in Japan feels special because of the (mostly positive) treatment and attention they receive. 
  • Some Japanese who have lived overseas, once they return to Japan, struggle to adapt to Japanese society.
  • Word of the day (proverb): Ichi-go ichi-e



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