Revised Nationality Law enacted

(An excerpt from an article of the Yomiuri Shimbun of December 6, 2008)

A revised Nationality Law was enacted Friday (December 5, 2008), paving the way for a child born outside wedlock to a Japanese man and a non-Japanese woman to obtain Japanese nationality if the father recognizes paternity.

Before enactment of the revised law, a Japanese man and non-Japanese woman had to be married when their child was born for the baby to be granted Japanese nationality. In cases in which a child was born out of wedlock to such a couple, the child would only be able to obtain Japanese nationality, strictly as an exception, if the father recognized paternity before the child was born.

Under the revised law, Japanese nationality will be granted to a child whose father recognizes paternity, regardless of whether the child's parents are married or if paternal recognition comes before or after birth.

The revised law, however, includes a provision for the imposition of prison terms of up to one year or fines of up to 200,000 yen for anyone falsely filing a claim of paternity.

Also, an additional resolution was eventually adopted to help prevent this problem. The resolution calls on the government to report on the status of enforcement of the law to the Diet every six months and to study a possible introduction of DNA analysis to determine parent-child relations.

The revision to remove the marital status clause from the law followed a ruling by the Supreme Court in June that the Nationality Law was unconstitutional in denying nationality to children born out of wedlock but recognized by fathers after birth. Currently, children between 600 and 700 in number fall into this category each year, according to the Justice Ministry.
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