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Problem renewing child's Japanese passport at City Hall

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My children are mixed-race and have dual nationality (UK and Japan). As such they also have both passports, but when my wife went to City Hall to renew my son's, she was told that because he has a foreign passport (which he obtained subsequent to the Japanese passport we're trying to renew), his Japanese citizenship may somehow have 'expired'.

Now, I realise this is ridiculous, and that children can have dual nationality and multiple passports here until they're 22 (officially, that is - it sounds like a lot of people keep them unofficially beyond that), but does anyone else have a similar experience and / or any advice about dealing with local government officials who aren't particularly knowledgeable about immigration / nationality / passport rules and regulations?

I'm going to go along with my wife tomorrow to try and sort things out, although among other things, the guy she talked to said we should call the British Embassy in Tokyo to 'check' what the rules are, which to be honest is his job, not ours. Plus, he's not going to know whether I've actually called or not, and if I have, what I've been told.

But anyway, any thoughts or advice on how to deal with this would be much appreciated!
 
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This will sound stupid, but are you sure you are talking to the actual passport office?

I only know of one--one of the four or so in Tokyo--that is located in a metro gov't building. Our local office is a couple kilometers away from city hall. (city of 450k) I could easily be wrong, but I guess it seems odd to me that a national gov't office would be located in a city hall.

Do you mind revealing where you are located?
 

mdchachi

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How did they even know he has a foreign passport? Is that a question you have to answer on the form?
 
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johnnyG - I'm near Mito in Ibaraki, but while there is a passport office there, if you're Japanese, you can apply for and obtain a passport direct from your local city / town hall. I'm not sure whether this has always been the case, and while it's a lot more convenient than having to go to a passport office, the downside is that it does give rise to misunderstandings like the one I'm now dealing with (talking to my wife last night, she said that the guy who dealt with our application said something like, 'In principal, it's not possible to hold multiple nationalities in Japan, so you should check with the British Embassy.').
 
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@Muzuhashi Ah, I see, I didn't know that. I'd probably skip trying to correct the misconceptions at city hall, it'd be easier getting to the actual passport office.
 
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mdchachi - That's a very pertinent question. There is a question on the form that asks if the applicant holds a passport from another country, and the first time we applied for our son, my wife answered 'no', partly because she didn't want to make the application process any more laborious than was necessary, and partly because at the time, we had yet to actually obtain a UK birth certificate and passport for him. This time she probably should have done the same thing (after all, who's going to know if he has another passport, right?), but like an honest, law-abiding citizen answered 'yes', hence causing the guys at city hall to semi-panic and make things difficult for us.
 
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Glenski - My son is 4 and my daughter is 6. He got his first Japanese passport when he was 3 or 4 months old and his first UK one when he was about 3, while her case was similar, in that she'd already travelled to the UK on her Japanese passport before she officially obtained her UK birth certificate and passport.
 
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Thanks, Musuhashi. So, we're not talking about some bureaucrat thinking your children are on the cusp of choosing nationality. That makes it all the stranger.

Maybe that official you encountered was a young person who didn't know what the heck reality is. My only suggestion is to ask for their (presumably older) supervisor for confirmation. Remain as polite as possible. Wishing you all the best.
 
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johnnyG / Glenski - You're right, it would be easier at the passport office, but as I've discovered, that's not possible - i.e. we have to get it from City Hall, where they staff aren't necessarily young, but also not necessarily particularly knowledgeable about passport / citizenship law.

Speaking of which, my wife and I went to city hall yesterday, and it turns out that while in principle, mixed-race children can hold dual nationality until they're 22, there are some circumstances in which they can forefeit their right to Japanese citizenship if they obtain British (or other foreign) citizenship subsequent to their Japanese citizenship - for example, if they are born in Japan, move abroad and decide to become a citizen of whatever foreign country in which they live at a later date.

The people at city hall were worried that this might apply to our son because we didn't get his British birth certificate until just under three months after he was born, meaning that in theory, there was a time during which he only had Japanese citizenship. In practice, however - and as I found out when I got home and did some Googling - if you're born to a British parent outside the UK (aka you're a UK citizen 'by birth'), you're automatically considered a UK citizen in the eyes of the law, even if you don't bother to apply for a birth certificate.

Also, you're only liable to forefeit your Japanese citizenship if you obtained British citizenship by naturalisation or registration - i.e. if you were born abroad and don't have a British parent, but are adopted by one or live in the UK for a time, thereby earning the right to become a citizen.

Now I've found all of this out, I just have to go back to City Hall again next week and persuade them that there's nothing to worry about, although they also put me in touch with the nearest 'regional legal affairs bureau' (法務局), who it appears will be able to act as intermediaries.

Will let you know how I get on and if I actually manage to overcome Japanese bureacracy after all!
 
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Speaking of which, my wife and I went to city hall yesterday, and it turns out that while in principle, mixed-race children can hold dual nationality until they're 22, there are some circumstances in which they can forefeit their right to Japanese citizenship if they obtain British (or other foreign) citizenship subsequent to their Japanese citizenship - for example, if they are born in Japan, move abroad and decide to become a citizen of whatever foreign country in which they live at a later date.

The people at city hall were worried that this might apply to our son because we didn't get his British birth certificate until just under three months after he was born, meaning that in theory, there was a time during which he only had Japanese citizenship.
I'm scratching my head trying to figure this out. It doesn't make any sense. Your kids are too young to renounce citizenship, and, you are renewing their passports so obviously you are not renouncing their Japanese citizenship. The worry that they only had Japanese citizenship should be of absolutely no concern of the Japanese passport people. The fact that your kids may have theoretically forfeited their UK citizenship (again, hard to imagine this scenario, but...ok) is of no relevance to their Japanese citizenship. It sounds like there was a communication breakdown somewhere. That minors can hold dual citizenship is not at all a secret or a little-known rule. It is public policy, and everyone who deals with passports *should* know this. Renewing your kids' passports should be the most uneventful, predictable, commonplace, if not boring, procedure in officialdom. I can't figure out why there should be any drama in this.
 
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we have to get it from City Hall, where they staff aren't necessarily young, but also not necessarily particularly knowledgeable about passport / citizenship law.

I think this says it all. My advice is to make sure you have clear documentation about how you are correct, and be as polite as possible to point it out. I don't know your level of spoken Japanese, but it may not matter if they want to deal only with the Japanese parent. So, bring your wife if at all possible. I predict a good outcome. You seem to have everything procedurally on your side. Hell, if they still balk at things, suggest that they ring up the immigration office while you stand there and wait. Maybe even have the number handy!
 
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Majestic - my apologies as I probably should have explained more clearly: it's actually the other way round, in the sense that they're worried I might have thrown away my son's Japanese citizenship when I obtained his UK citizenship.

The drama is because when my wife applied for his first Japanese passport, she ticked a box on the form saying that he didn't hold any other nationalities (partly because she didn't want to cause any undue hassle - which is ironic given the situation we're now in! - and partly because at the time we hadn't yet received his UK birth certificate). This made the people at City Hall worry that he may have acquired his UK citizenship when he was a little older (as opposed to the moment he was born, which I now know to be the case), and that if he was a UK citizen by registration or naturalisation (as opposed to by birth, which is his true status), thereby forego his Japanese citizenship (as is apparently the case with some people who don't have British parents, but move to the UK and become UK citizens having lived / worked there for a while, been adopted etc). (Actually, the more I write about this, the more difficult it is to understand and the less sense it seems to make, but anyway!)

Glenski - thanks for the good advice! I'm going back tomorrow - this time on my own, actually, because the whole situation stresses my wife out - and will be armed with plenty of paperwork, phone numbers and hopefully patience...
 
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OK, now I get it. That's much clearer.
But I think the cast of characters at city hall are being overzealous in suspecting a convoluted, technical, and unintentional forfeiture of Japanese citizenship of a minor. I can only sympathize and hope everything goes well for you tomorrow.
 
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Thanks once again for all of your replies to this post, and I thought you might be interested to know that we've finally been cleared to renew my son's Japanese passport.

Basically, the woman at City Hall who was being so awkward about the whole thing effectively handed over responsibility for the decision to the local 法務局 (legal affairs bureau), who did of course find that there was nothing irregular about our application at all.

The irony is that apparently, the woman at City Hall wasn't a public employee who had been dumped in the passport department with no previous experience, but actually used to work at the local passport office, so why she was so ignorant of the law and procedure regarding nationality etc is a complete mystery.

Just in case anyone else experiences the same problem, the documentation that I presented to the legal affairs bureau was as follows:

1) A photocopy of our son's Japanese passport (City Hall held on to the original because our application to renew was suspended, and we had to get special permission to get it back and make a copy)
2) A photocopy of my UK passport (I'm British and my son gets his UK nationality from me)
3) A photocopy of our son's UK birth certificate
4) A Japanese translation of our son's UK birth certificate (the bureau were happy for me to do this myself, so we didn't have to pay for an 'official' translation)
5) A copy of my wife's family register (戸籍謄本 / koseki-toh-hon - this was from City Hall in her hometown, where we were living when both of our children were born)
6) A copy of our certificate of residence (住民票 - juu-min-hyoh - from City Hall where we live, and perhaps ironically, the same building in which the passport department is located)

Number 3 proves that my son is British 'by birth', and is therefore entitled to keep his Japanese nationality until he's 22 no matter what other nationalities he may or may not choose to obtain, and Number 5 and 6 disprove the admittedly highly unlikely possibility that may have chosen to throw away his Japanese nationality in the intervening time between obtaining his first Japanese passport and renewing it.

I'm going to City Hall tonight to hand back his Japanese passport and restart the renewal process, and mentioned to my wife that I'm tempted to extract an apology from the woman in question - preferably of the 土下座 variety - but as she pointed out, I should probably wait until we actually have the new passport first!
 
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