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2008年6月 5日 (木)


(Jun. 5, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Supreme Court corrects outdated Nationality Law

「国籍法」違憲 時代に合わない法を正した(6月5日付・読売社説)

The Supreme Court's Grand Bench declared unconstitutional Wednesday a clause in the Nationality Law that requires parents to be married in order for Japanese nationality to be granted to their children.

This is the eighth case in which the Supreme Court has declared a law provision as going against the Constitution. The latest ruling shows the necessity of revising laws flexibly so that they are in accordance with social changes.

The top court made the landmark decision on two cases in which a total of 10 Japanese-Filipino children with Philippine citizenship sought to confirm their Japanese nationality. All of them were born out of wedlock to Japanese fathers and Filipino mothers. Their fathers recognized paternity for them after they were born in Japan.




Children born out of wedlock to Japanese men and non-Japanese women can have Japanese nationality if their fathers acknowledge the children as theirs before birth. Like the plaintiffs in the latest cases, however, if they are acknowledged after their birth, such children cannot obtain Japanese nationality as long as their parents remain unmarried.



Parental ties, not when, key

However, the Supreme Court said in the latest ruling that the Nationality Law's clause that requires parents to be married for Japanese nationality to be granted to their children, is "discrimination without reasonable grounds." It also goes against equality under the laws guaranteed by the Constitution, according to the ruling.


"The provision does not necessarily match today's reality, if diversity and changes of attitudes toward family life and the parent-child relationship are taken into consideration," the top court said.


diversity=多様性)(changes of attitudes toward family life=家族関係に関する意識の変化)

The ruling is a realistic judgment that recognizes the actual situation in which the number of single mothers, and international and common-law marriages, is increasing.


international marriage=国際結婚)(common-low marriage=事実婚、既成事実で結婚、出来ちゃった婚)

Some of the justices said in supporting opinions that it is hard to find the rationality in deciding whether to grant Japanese nationality or not based on when children can get paternal recognition.


Due to this clause in the Nationality Law, some unnatural situations have been left unresolved, such as Japanese-Filipino sisters who have been unable to obtain the same nationality.


In granting Japanese nationality, the government values whether a foreign national has close ties to Japan. This policy in itself is reasonable.



Acknowledging new times

The Supreme Court said in the latest ruling that there might once have been compelling reasons to consider the parents' marital status as a way to measure their children's ties with Japan.


Wednesday's ruling forces the Justice Ministry to revise the Nationality Law. The ministry will have to work quickly on a new standard to measure the ties an applicant has to Japan, such as the number of years spent in the country. It also will need measures to detect "a bogus paternal recognition" designed at securing Japanese nationality.



It is said that tens of thousands of children with foreign nationalities are under situations similar to the plaintiffs.


The Supreme Court approved the constitutionality of the clause in the Nationality Law in 2002 and rejected a demand by a Filipino woman to obtain Japanese nationality for one of her daughters born out of wedlock from a Japanese father. At that time, the top court considered paternal recognition after birth alone as not enough to grant Japanese nationality.



In the six years since then, however, the top court has decided otherwise.


The Supreme Court assumes a heavy responsibility over checking whether laws match the changing realities in society.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 5, 2008)

2008650132  読売新聞)


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