Citizenship for kids still tall order

Many observers of the Nationality Law have welcomed the government’s proposed revision approved Tuesday by the Cabinet that will soon allow hundreds of children born out of wedlock to Japanese men and foreign women to obtain Japanese nationality if the father recognizes paternity even after birth.

Despite what seems to be a positive move, however, some also predict many challenges ahead before the children entitled to Japanese nationality can actually acquire it.

“The revision will mean a lot to the children, because (nationality) is part of their identity and will secure them a more stable status and future,” said Rieko Ito, secretary general of the Tokyo-based Citizens Network for Japanese-Filipino Children, which supports Filipino women and children in Japan who often live under permanent resident status.

The scheduled amendment is in line with the June 4 Supreme Court ruling that a provision of the law on the status of children born out of wedlock was unconstitutional.

Today, the law still reads that a child born out of wedlock between a Japanese father and a foreign mother can get Japanese nationality only if the father admits paternity during the mother’s pregnancy, or if the couple get married before the child turns 20, but not after birth.

Thus, children whose fathers acknowledge paternity after their birth are not granted Japanese nationality, which the top court declared a violation of equal rights.