Japanese citizenship

How to become Japanese

Though there are numerous requirements and a lot of paperwork, Japanese citizenship isn’t impossible to obtain. Just be aware, Japan does not permit dual-citizenship, therefore you will have no renounce your current nationality.

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.

Japanese citizenship requirements

To become a Japanese citizen you must have lived in the country for at least five years and be over twenty years 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.

The application process can be lengthy. The Ministry of Justice says the whole process takes from six months to a year. Citizens who have successfully completed the naturalization process report varying time frames, often it depends on how quickly you can gather all the necessary paperwork together.

The good news is, while it may take awhile to process your application, about 99% of all applications are approved. Reported in the Japan Times: "In 2010, 13,072 citizenship applications were approved with just 234 rejected".

Remember you should make sure to check with the Ministry of Justice   for updated citizenship requirements and ask as many questions as necessary when dealing with officials.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here:

Other comments

  • Earl H. Kinmonth, 15 March 2013 Reply

    Naturalization in Japan

    This article is complete rubbish. The claim "Numerous requirements and strict immigration officials mean only a few hundred of over ten thousand applications for Japanese citizenship are accepted each year." is utterly wrong. There are roughly 14-15000 people who naturalize every year. The success rate of applicants is close to 100 percent. Ethnicity has NOTHING to do with Japanese citizenship. A child born to two ethnic Koreans who have acquired Japanese nationality will also have Japanese nationality.

    • Just Landed 22 Mar 2013, 05:03

      Re: naturalization in Japan

      Hi Earl,

      Thanks for your comment and bringing our attention to this article. We have now updated it and changed the information.