Lower house OKs bill to remove marriage requirement for nationality

The House of Representatives at its plenary session on Tuesday passed a bill to amend the Nationality Law to enable a child born out of wedlock to a Japanese man and a foreign woman to obtain Japanese nationality if the father recognizes his paternity.
The bill will be immediately sent to the House of Councillors and is expected to pass the upper chamber for enactment by the end of the current parliamentary session through Nov. 30.

The government proposed revisions to the law after the Supreme Court ruled in June unconstitutional a provision in the law requiring parents to be married in order for their children to be granted Japanese nationality.

The bill includes a provision for the imposition of prison terms of up to one year or fines of up to 200,000 yen on anyone falsely filing for the paternity of a Japanese man to be recognized in order to secure Japanese nationality.

A group of lawmakers mainly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are against holding a vote, saying the revision could lead to an increase in false nationality claims.

At present, a child born outside a marriage can obtain nationality if the Japanese father admits paternity when the child is still in the mother’s womb. In other words, nationality is not granted to a child who receives paternity recognition after birth.

The envisioned amendment would enable nationality to be given to any child born out of wedlock as long as he or she receives parental recognition.