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2008年6月 6日 (金)


06/06/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, June 5 (IHT/Asahi: June 6,2008)

EDITORIAL: Nationality Law


The Nationality Law stipulates that a child born to a Japanese man or woman is considered a Japanese citizen at birth, regardless of whether the child's parents are legally married.


A child born to a Japanese man and an unmarried foreign woman is granted Japanese nationality if the father acknowledges paternity by the time of the child's birth.


But if the Japanese father acknowledges paternity only after the child's birth, the boy or girl has no rights of Japanese nationality under a controversial provision of the law unless the parents are married.


The constitutionality of this provision was challenged by 10 children who were born out of wedlock to Japanese fathers and Filipina mothers but were acknowledged by their fathers as their own after their births. They filed lawsuits seeking to be recognized as Japanese nationals.


The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, declaring as unconstitutional the provision of the Nationality Law under which children (born to unmarried foreign mothers and) acknowledged by their Japanese fathers after their birth will be granted Japanese nationality on condition that their parents are married. The ruling granted Japanese nationality to all the plaintiffs, children aged 8 to 14.


In handing down the well-reasoned ruling, the top court argued as follows: In the past, it was thought that a child's close tie with the country of its parent was based on the marital relationship between the parents. But both society's views and realities concerning families and parent-child relations have changed over the years. Many countries have scrapped such legal discrimination in granting nationality to children based on circumstances surrounding their births.



The plaintiffs were all born and raised in Japan and are attending Japanese schools. While they are living as members of Japanese society, the lack of Japanese nationality puts them at a serious disadvantage in various aspects of social life. One of the plaintiffs, 10-year-old Masami, dreams of becoming a police officer, but it will remain beyond her reach unless she is given Japanese nationality. Such discrimination and a violation of individual rights should not be left unaddressed.


One in every 10 children who have Japanese fathers and foreign mothers is born out of wedlock. There can be various circumstances surrounding the births of these illegitimate children. But there must be many cases in which the Japanese father is responsible for the child's illegitimate status.



In any case, there is no fault on the part of the child. There is nothing such children could have done to make sure that their fathers would acknowledge paternity before their births or their parents would get married after they were born. There are tens of thousands of children born to Japanese fathers and foreign mothers who are not recognized as Japanese nationals, according to an estimate.


What was noteworthy about the Supreme Court decision was that it approved of interpreting the law in a way that makes it possible to rescue people subject to discrimination. In granting nationality to the plaintiffs, the court applied the law by ignoring the provision it deemed unconstitutional.


the court applied the law by ignoring the provision it deemed unconstitutional→the court applied the law by ignoring the provision (that is) deemed (to be) unconstitutional


Some of the 15 justices on the grand bench, however, dissented, arguing that the provision that is unconstitutional should be corrected through legislation. However, the Diet and the government have failed to revise the law while the constitutionality of the provision has long been questioned. Waiting for new legislation to fix the problem would further delay relief for the victims.




We support the Supreme Court decision. It exercised its power to determine the constitutionality of a law so as to actually make things better for the children.



--The Asahi Shimbun, June 5 (IHT/Asahi: June 6,2008)

朝日新聞 6月05日号 (英語版 2008年6月06日発行)


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