So you are planning to get naturalized and become a Japanese National? Once you naturalized to Japanese, you can live a life as a Japanese citizen and obtain a Japanese passport. However, please remember that Japan does not permit dual-citizenship, therefore you will have no renounce your current nationality. Quite a big decision that you should think about starting the procedure.
Japan is a "Jus sanguinis" state, which means nationality is deferred by blood, not by location of birth. If a baby is born in Japan and either of its parents is a Japanese national, then the baby will have Japanese citizenship. If a child is born to Chinese parents living in Japan, it won’t automatically be granted citizenship.
If you want to naturalize to Japanese, be prepared to confront a pile of documents for the application. Though there are numerous requirements and a lot of paperwork, Japanese citizenship isn’t impossible to obtain. However, this is not somehting you want to start by yourself and your chances to get it will definitely increase with the help of a legal assistant for the application. Please feel free to contact us via our contact form for more information about our Naturalization Service.
How the Naturalization differs from the Permanent Residency
Here are the main differences between a Permanent Residency and becoming a Japanese National:
Criteria & Requirements
To become a Japanese citizen you must have lived in the country for at least five years and be over 20 of age. Your mental health must be good and be of good character. Having a criminal record could be detrimental to your application, but each case is examined individually and the seriousness of the crime and when it was committed are taken into account. As always, officials will want to see proof that you can support yourself and your family.
In addition to these basic requirements, there is an enormous amount of required documentation. This includes everything from your birth certificate to the names of your family written in katakana, one of the Japanese writing systems.
Some applicants will have their home, and possibly their workplace, inspected by officials. This process is essentially done to check the details provided in your application are correct. Most applicants aren't subject to such an inspection and the likelihood of getting one depends on various factors, for example, how easy it is to verify your home and workplace address online. The chances of an inspection also depend on the workload of the naturalization office - obviously Tokyo and Osaka tend to be busier, and therefore less likely to be able to inspect every applicant's home than more rural offices.
To summarize the conditions, here are the main criteria you will be required to fulful when applying for naturalization in Japan:
1. Lived in Japan for 5 years or more continually
2. Be 20 years of age or older (and reached the official age as an adult in your home country)
3. Good conduct in Japan (no criminal record)*1
4. Be able to financially support yourself (and you family) in Japan
5. If you are married to a Japanese national, you need to prove that the marriage is genuine and that you live together
6. Must forfeit your foreign nationality when granted the Japanese nationality
7. You must be of a nature to abide by the Japanese Peace Constitution
8. Be able to read and write in Japanese*2
*1 - It is important that you have not been involved in any crime in Japan. Even a minor traffic offence may affect your application. Whether or not you have been paying tax properly reflects your duty as a would-be national and is another assessment factor. You are judged on whether you can live in Japanese society like an ordinary law-abiding Japanese national.
*2 - You need to have Japanese reading and writing skills at least equivalent to an ordinary elementary school student. You need to understand basic "kanjis" besides "katakana" and "hiragana". You need to be able to communicate smoothly in Japanese with an officer in charge of your case (interview). As a potential applicant, it is important to ask yourself "Can I satisfy these conditions?".
Please keep in mind that even though all of the conditions are met, it does not always mean that you will automatically receive the Japanese citizenship. The Minister of Justice and the Agent who will be interviewing you has still the authority to decide whether to grant you the citizenship or not. Even if you application is perfect, It's up to their entire judgment in the end.
Last but no least, if you are a businessman who travels overseas 100 days or more per year, then please understand that it might be difficult to apply for Naturalization. In fact, the criteria requiring you to be in Japan 80% per year.
The application process can be lengthy. It generally takes from 8 months to 12 months to get the result from the Ministry of Justice, often it depends on how quickly you can gather all the necessary paperwork. Please be aware that you are still required to renew your current visa before your Naturalization application is approved.
Exemptions for legal conditions
There are few exemptions to the conditions stated above according to Nationality Law.
You do not have to satisfy the 5 years residence requirement if you have an address in Japan and you satisfy one of the conditions below:
- You are a child of a former Japanese national renouncing Japanese nationality (excluding a child by adoption) and have continually lived in Japan for at least 3 years.
- You were born in Japan and have continually lived in Japan for at least 3 years, or you have a parent (excluding parents by adoption) who was once born in Japan.
- You have had a residence in Japan for at least 10 years.
- You are a spouse of a Japanese national and have lived in Japan for at least 3 years continually.
- You are a spouse of a Japanese national being married for at least 3 years from the date of marriage and have lived in Japan for at least 1 year during this period.
- You are a child of a Japanese national (excluding a child by adoption) and have an address in Japan.
- You are an adopted child of a Japanese national who were a minor at the time of the adoption and have an address in Japan for at least 1 continuous year.
- You have lost Japanese nationality but still have an address in Japan.
- You were born in Japan, have had no nationality since then, and have lived in Japan for at least 3 years continuously since the birth.
Necessary documents for the application
Necessary documents to apply for the Naturalization differs from your situation. Each case is different and the Ministry of Justice might ask different documents for each person. Minori Legal Consulting Office will meet you to better understand your situation and tell you exactly what documents and information would be necessary for the application.
But basically, besides the application form for Naturalization, you will need to submit at least the following: A document proving your previous nationality, proof of income, certificate of employment, pay slips, residence certificate, tax payment certificate, a resume, and so on. You will also need to write a letter in Japanese which describes the reason for your application for the Naturalization in Japan. You can write it in English and we'll take care of translating it for you.
One of the most decisive and important point is being able to certify that you are properly paying your taxes in Japan. A copy of your final tax return, certificate of residential tax payment, certificate of national pension and health insurance payment, etc. will definitely be necessary for the application. A certificate of your bank account balance might be necessary in some cases.
Even if not necessary, recommendation letters from companies and/or universities can be a big push as well. If you have received a decoration for bravery or distinguished services, or a certificate of commendation from a local government or the national government of Japan, then you should submit certified copies of them. You may also submit any proof of your activity as a volunteer. The possibility of obtaining a the citizenship improves with thorough preparation and submission of the above documents with the application form.
When a successful assessment process is completed, the Minister of Justice announces his approval in the official gazette and an officer of the Bureau of Legal Affairs calls in the applicant. Then the officer of the Bureau of Legal Affairs hands in the approval notice and a personal identification card is issued. You then have to report your new nationality at your local municipality office by the specified date. Once your Japanese nationality is formally approved and you got your own Family Register, you can return your Japanese Residence Card to the Immigration Bureau.
⚫︎ Any certificate among supporting documents has to be issued within 3 months before the date of application.
⚫︎ English translation written in foreign languages other than English would be necessary.
⚫︎ Additional documents may be required during the examination of Immigration Office.