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How to Become a Citizen of Japan

Last Updated On: January 27, 2022 by The Migration Translators

Japanese passport with bank notes inside. Business and travel concept
How to Become a Citizen of Japan
Last updated:March 12th, 2020 by The Migration Translators

If you have been living in Japan and have been working there or running a business, there may be a point at which you decide that the benefits of becoming a Japanese citizen outweigh any potential disadvantages. You cannot acquire Japanese citizenship purely because you were born in Japan. You must either be born to parents who are Japanese citizens themselves or acquire Japanese citizenship through a process of naturalization. If you want your documents translated when applying for Japanese citizenship you make sure to get it done from a certified translator. This article explains how to apply for Japanese citizenship through the process of naturalization.

Why become a Japanese national?

The main benefit of becoming a Japanese national or citizen is that it ties you more into Japanese society, rather than forever being an outsider. As a Japanese citizen, you are allowed to vote in local or national elections, something which is seen as a duty in Japan. You can also take up positions in public office; even have a tilt at an election to the Diet, Japan’s bicameral Parliament.

There are other benefits of becoming a citizen of Japan. You can freely come and go from Japan without having to confirm your residency status each time you leave. If you work in Japan or run a business there, this level of certainty can make a huge difference to your state of mind and your ability to do your job or plan for the future of your business. It can also help you if you are married to a Japanese citizen as it standardizes your family and means that any children you have should become Japanese citizens automatically. As has been mentioned already, even if you are living and working in Japan if you have children born there they do not automatically acquire citizenship unless you yourself and your partner are Japanese citizens.

Dual citizenship is out

The main disadvantage of becoming a Japanese citizen, for those of you who have retained close links with their country of birth, is that Japan does not allow dual citizenship. If you become a naturalized Japanese citizen, you are expected to renounce your original citizenship.

Criteria for acquiring Japanese nationality

There are some simple criteria for deciding whether you can apply for Japanese citizenship. You need to:

  • have lived in Japan for at least 5 years;
  • be financially ‘independent,’ i.e. earning sufficient income to not be dependent on the state;
  • agree to respect the Japanese Constitution;
  • be of good moral character, i.e. not have had a criminal record, although individual circumstances are usually taken into consideration;
  • be more than 20 years old;
  • agree to renounce your old citizenship.

How to apply for Japanese citizenship

If you think that you fit the criteria detailed above, then it is time to think about applying to become a Japanese citizen. There is quite a lot of bureaucracy involved and all applicants must expect to be patient. It can take up to a full year to have your application approved and there are a lot of documents that must be obtained. It helps, of course, to be able to speak fluent Japanese and be able to read and write Japanese characters. In fact, one of the requirements of the Japanese citizenship application process is that you are expected to write a reason why you want to become a Japanese citizen in Japanese.

Despite the prolonged application process, as an applicant, you can take heart in the fact that 99% of all applications are eventually approved.

Here is a list of documents you should prepare before sending your completed application form off to the relevant authority.

  • application form with 2 attached photos 5 cm x 5 cm;
  • personal resume;
  • details of how you earn a living while in Japan;
  • description of where you live and work or where your business is located;
  • financial statements including tax certificates;
  • educational and professional qualifications;
  • birth certificate;
  • passport entry showing legal status in Japan e.g. work permit or residence
  • permit;
  • details of family members;
  • other documents, if requested.

The process of acquiring citizenship

Once you have completed your application form and have collected all the documents required to accompany it, you need to file it with the Citizenship Division at the Legal Affairs Bureau closest to where you live or work. The officials will check through the application and may ask for further documentation. They may also inspect the place you live or work or your business location to verify that the information you have submitted is indeed correct. You will be then called for an interview, which may take a couple of months into the process.

Assuming that your application is eventually approved, it will be announced through the Official Gazette. You can then go and collect your certificate of naturalization, hand in your alien registration card and complete your family registration. You will have become a Japanese citizen! Omedetou! (おめでとう).