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Okinawan-American couple learns baby registration rules

Date Posted: 2009-01-08

An Okinawan woman married to an American has discovered the complexities of registering their American-born son to maintain Japanese citizenship.
The couple had been living in New York when the boy was born, but upon returning to Okinawa discovered that the child’s name was not listed in the family register. “Why is my baby’s name not there?” she asked the city office. Office staff asked “did you go to the city office in New York and register the baby’s citizenship to keep Japanese citizenship too?” The woman had not, and learned that newborn babies must be registered at birth in order to protect laws of nationality.
Now, city authorities have reassured the couple it’s not too late, because the child born in America to a Japanese mother was entitled to citizenship from both countries. Since the paperwork was not done within 90 days of birth, the automatic element doesn’t apply, but the child is still eligible for Japanese citizenship. The couple was told to register the child’s birth on Okinawa, since he’s not yet 20 years old, and resides in Japan.
Registration is accomplished with the Japanese Ministry of Justice, the same ministry that ultimately awards citizenship.

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