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Supreme Court of Japan - Marriage Requirements for Parents of Children Born out of Wedlock for the Granting of Japanese Nationality: Nationality Act Deemed Unconstitutional

 On 4 June 2008, the Grand Bench of the Supreme Court of Japan (presided by Justice Shimada Niro) granted Japanese nationality to all 10 children born out of wedlock to Japanese fathers and mothers who have Republic of the Philippines nationality. The Grand Bench decided that the current Nationality Act violates Article 14 of the Constitution's guarantee of equality before the law. The said Nationality Act stipulates that a child born out of wedlock, and acknowledged by the father after birth, may acquire Japanese nationality only if the child has acquired the status of a child born in wedlock as a result of the marriage of the parents.
 The plaintiffs submitted an application from 2003 to 2005 for acquisition of Japanese nationality on the grounds that the children were acknowledged by their fathers after birth, but they were not granted.
 According to Article 2-1 of the Nationality Act, if a child born out of wedlock is acknowledged by the father before birth, the child shall acquire Japanese nationality. However, according to Article 3-1 of the same act, in the case of the father acknowledging him/her after birth, a child may acquire Japanese nationality only as a result of the marriage of the parents.
 The Grand Bench pointed out that the Articles were considered adequate at the time the provision was established in 1984, but are no longer appropriate for legislative purposes because views regarding family lifestyle and parent-child relationships have changed and are varied.
 After the ruling, the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice advised to the Regional Legal Affairs Bureaus that the application shall be received, without deciding permissibility, when children with similar status have the application to grant Japanese nationality submitted on their behalf.
 Justice Minister Hatoyama Kunio spoke at the Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee on 5 June, stating that "Article 3 of the Nationality Act should be subject to revision after adequate consideration".
 In this connection, he did not clarify whether the revision of the said Act may or may not reflect the ruling. However, his comments supported the opinions of those who wish the ruling to grant Japanese nationality: "In addition to the acknowledgement after birth by their fathers who have Japanese nationality, the children were born in Japan and have lived in Japan for a certain period of time". (12 June 2008)

Sources:
·Supreme Court (Judgment concerning the relationship between a distinction in granting Japanese nationality)
http://www.courts.go.jp/search/jhsp0030?action_id=dspDetail&hanreiSrchKbn=02&hanreiNo=36416&hanreiKbn=01
http://www.courts.go.jp/english/judgments/text/2008.06.04-2006.-Gyo-Tsu-.No..135-111255.html
·House of Councilors Judicial Affairs Committee [Japanese]
http://www.sangiin.go.jp/japanese/joho1/kaigirok/daily/select0103/main.html


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