1899 Nationality Law

"The conditions necessary for being a Japanese subject"

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 April 2006
Last updated 15 June 2014


Birth of "kokuseki" "Nihonjin" as raceless status | Naturalization law drafts | Nationality law drafts | Primacy of family law
Initial determination Hosokawa 1990 | Ninomiya 1983 | Sawaki 1981 | De Becker 1909 | Aoki Shuzo's constitution, 1873-1874
1899 Nationality Law (No. 66)   Nationality through father, mother, birth in Japan, marriage, adoption, naturalization
   Promulgation and revision history | Nationality of children | Acquisition by aliens | Restrictions on acquired nationality
   Losing, retaining, renouncing | Limitations on dual nationality | Regaining lost nationality
1899 Law concerning rights of those who have lost nationality (No. 94)  
1899 ordinance (Ordinance No. 51)   Adopted sons, incoming husbands, naturalization, restoration of nationality
1915 Japanese Law of Nationality pamphlet  "No racial or national discrimination"
   Discovery of pamphlet | Personal importance | Historical importance | Gilbert Bowles | J. E. De Becker | Reproduction of pamphlet
1916 revision (Law No. 27)   Renunciation and other measures to minimize dual nationality
1924 revision (Law No. 19)   Retention of nationality of children born in the Americas
1924 enforcement regulations (Ordinance No. 26)   Guidelines for enforcing 1899 law as revised in 1924
1925 SF Consulate General of Japan books   Law Cases Effecting Japanese in the United States 1916-1924
1st 1948 revision (Law No. 239)   Changes "Interior Minister" to "competent minister"
2nd 1948 revision (Law No. 195)   Changes "competent minister" to "Attorney General"


The birth of "kokuseki"

Japan introduced its first nationality law in 1899, the year its unequal treaties with the United States and other countries were abolished. The timing appears to be merely coincidental with the ending of ending of extraterritoriality treaties the same year. However, a law that determined Japanese status had to have considered the implications of alien status.

The keyword of the law -- kokuseki (国籍) -- did not come into existence until the 1880s, in the process of revising drafts of articles that were originally intended to be part of the Civil Code. The following summary of this development is mostly based on Ninomiya Masato's 1983 comparative study of nationality law and gender equality, which I have reviewed in Bibliography.

Four periods

Ninomiya breaks his study of nationality in Japan, after the start of the Meiji era, into the following four periods (Ninomiya 1983, pages 217-218).

Period 1  Until 1886, during which there were movements to revise the inside/outside [insider/outsider] marriage provisions (内外婚姻条規) and enact a naturalization law (帰化法).

Period 2  From 1887 to 1891, during which, in connection with the enactment of the constitution [in 1890] and movements to revise the unequal [extraterritorial] treaties, efforts to draft a nationality law (国籍法) were vigorously made, but in connection with the old [1890] Civil Code [approved but never enacted] it became a plan for a "naturalization law".

Period 3  The period of planning and revising the 1899 Nationality Law.

Period 4  The period when the enactment of the 1950 Nationality Law was carried out.

Thumbnail sketch of "kokuseki" development

Ninomiya gives nearly twelve pages to an overview of the development of "kokuseki" (国籍 state affiliation) in the course of tracing changes in how "status" as a Japanese was regarded in various drafts of what eventually became the 1899 Nationality Law.

Ninomiya then gives a thumbnail sketch of the first and second periods, and the start of the third period (page 218, bold emphasis and related notes are mine).

The concept of kokuseki (国籍 state affiliation, nationality) in the present age is something that was shaped concomitant with the formation of recent-age [modern] states, and issues before then should probably be taken up as legal historical themes. The concept of "kokuseki" (「国籍」) is something that was introduced (移入された) from foreign countries. The term's origin (語源) is "Staatsangehörigkeit". However, it was not that this term (語) was immediately translated (訳された) as "kokuseki". The translated term (訳語) corresponding to this term in the constitution draft of Roesler in 1887 was "kokumin taru shikaku" (「国民タル資格」"qualifications to be a national"). This was not a matter of regarding someone who possess "kokuseki" as a "kokumin" (「国民」"national"), but was the starting point of the concept of "kokumin". Accordingly, laws which existed before the establishment of the kokuseki concept were merely laws that differentiated between "Japanese" (日本人) and "aliens" (外国人). Also, under the closed-country system in which there was no inside/outside [outsider/insider] mixed residence (内外混住), "Japanese" in the racial sense was at once "Japanese" in the legal sense. For this reason, it can be said that jus sanguinis (血統主義) in the Nationality Law is something traditional since the uji-kabane system (氏姓制度) in antiquity. As for [when] the term "kika" (「帰化」"change of allegiance") was first used in a recent-age [modern] sense, [that] was in Tsuda Shin'ichirō's translation Taiseikoku hō ron (泰西国法論 "On laws of far west countries") published in 1866. In the rest [of this section], I will take up the development process of the concepts of "kokuseki" and "naturalization" in each period.

Notes

Staatsangehörigkeit is the most widely used German term "state affiliation" in the sense of "nationality", as opposed to Staatsbürgerschaft for "state citizenship". This distinction was made in the 1871 nationality law of the unified German Empire. Significantly, 国籍 derives from "Staatsangehorigkeit" -- which denotes an association with the State -- and not from "Volksangehorigkeit" -- which means an association with a Volk or ethnic entity.

Karl Friedrich Hermann Roesler (1834-1894) was a German jurist who served the Meiji government from 1878 to 1893. He began as an advisor on international law to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but in 1884 he helped set up the cabinet system that began the following year, and then helped Itō Hirobumi (1841-1909), its first Prime Minister, and Inoue Kowashi (1844-1895), draft Japan's first constitution. Inoue had studied in France, and in 1875, back in Japan, he published Laws founding kingdoms (王国建国法 Ōkoku kenkoku hō), in which he translated the 1850 Prussian and 1831 Belgian constitutions from a collection of constitutions by Édouard Louis Julien-Laferrière (1841-1901).

Tsuda Shin'ichirō (津田真一郎, 1829-1903), better known as Tsuda Mamichi (津田真道), studied in the Netherlands between 1862 and 1866. His book on European laws, published after his return, was the first of its kind in Japan. He served the Tokugawa Shogunate during its last year, then joined the Ministry of Justice of the new Meiji government and had a hand in drafting many laws.

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"Nihonjin" as a raceless status

Ninomiya points out that the term 国籍 (kokuseki) had not yet been coined in 1873 when the measure permitting Japanese to marry and adopt aliens used the phrase 日本人タル分限 (Nihonjin taru bungen) or "the standing of being Japanese".

However, Ninomiya does not analyze the significance of this phrase. Moreover, he replaces it with 国籍 in citations of articles in the 1873 proclamation, and in drafts of later proposals to revise it -- thus compromising the linguistic credibility of his thesis.

It is, however, during attempts in 1883 to revise the 1873 proclamation that the term 国籍 is coined. Hence I have placed this part of the "kokuseki" story under 1873 intermarriage proclamation: Family law and "the standing of being Japanese", which see for further details.

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Naturalization law drafts

Among the papers of Inoue Kowashi (井上毅 1844-1895) is a document on the opinions of Gustave Boissonade (1825-1910) concerning a 1876 draft of a Nationalization Law (帰化法 kikahō) submitted by the Ministry of Justice to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for its consideration. The draft had sections regarding (1) the gain of the status of Japanese through naturalization and (2) the loss of such status by Japanese who naturalized in a foreign country.

The draft established provisions for naturalization to Japan and change of nationality from Japan. Japanese would need permission from the government to naturalize to a foreign country. There was no system for nationality divestation. There were limitations on the official capacities of naturalized persons. There were no ways to restore nationality. The age of eligibility for nationality would be twenty. (Ninomiya 1883:220-221)

Boissonade not only commented on the draft but wrote his own draft. In his draft he had a provision that an applicant for naturalization must be competent according to Japanese law, but must have reached an age of competency in one's own country. He also had a provision for "grand naturalization" (大帰化 daikika), which allows the government to confer nationality on an alien without regard to the qualifications required for ordinary naturalization. Both provisions were introduced in the 1899 Nationality Law and survive in the present Nationality Law (Ninomiya 1983:221).

No law of naturalization was promulgated at this time. However, there were requests to become Japanese other than through marriage.

Presumably sometime in the late 1870s, the Hokkaido Development Office (北海道開拓使, Hokkaidō Kaitakushi) -- or "Hokkaido Colonial Department" as it is usually known in English -- received, from two Chinese in Hokkaido, a petition stating that they "wish to enter the registry of your country and permanently reside and pursue a living in Hokkaido" (御国籍ニ入リ北海道ニ永住生計ヲ営ミ度). The petitioners were two of ten Chinese the office had employed to work in the territory. The office submitted to the Chancellor of the Great Council of State -- comparable to today's Prime Minister -- a notification expressing that it wished to enroll the two men under its jurisdiction in commoner registers (願意聞届 当使管下平民籍へ編入致度). (Ninomiya 1983:221)

According to Ninomiya, the office's request for permission to enroll the Chinese in local registers, which would have made them Japanese, was not permitted (Ninomiya 1983:221).

However, Asakawa Akihiro, in his 2003 and 2007 reports on this case, says that the two Chinese men were permitted to change their allegiance in 1879. See Becoming Japanese in the Meiji period for details.

Regarding naturalization legislation, Ninomiya states that there is evidence in a memo from Inoue Kowashi to Itō Hirobumi, dated 18 November 1886, concerning work being done in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on another draft of a law of naturalization. However, the concrete content of the draft is not known. (Ninomiya 1983:221).

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Nationality law drafts

Article 18 of the 1890 Constitution stated that the conditions for being a "subject of Japan" (日本臣民 Nippon shinmin) would be as determined by law. The Diet was therefore obliged to come up with a law of nationality.

Efforts to come up with legislation concerning nationality and naturalization had, of course, already begun. In 1886 Inoue Kowashi produced a proposal that (1) the laws concerning nationality be divided between the civil code then being drafted and a law of naturalization, (2) nationality acquisition through birth be based on jus sanguinis, and (3) "Aliens appointed by the Government of Japan shall, if there are no other agreements, be nationals of naturalization during the appointment" (日本政府ヨリ任用シタル外国人ハ別段ノ約束アルニ非サレバ任用ノ間帰化ノ国民トス). (Ninomiya 1983:222)

The third provision took into consideration contemporary negotiations to revise treaties, and drew from Germany's 1870 nationality law. Germany's law provided that German by naturalization, unless by grand naturalization, could not hold specified higher government posts or the ranks of general or admiral. A preliminary draft of the Meiji constitution, by Karl Friedrich Hermann Roesler (1834-1894), had included similar provisions, inspired by the 1870 German nationality law. (Ninomiya 1983:222)

Natsushima draft

Both Article 18 of the 1890 Constitution and Article 10 of the 1947 Constitution, which stipulate that conditions for being a subject (1890) or national (1947) of Japan will be determined by law, have their origin in Article 49 of the Natsushima draft constitution -- so-called because it was written by Itō, Inoue, and others at Itō's summer home in Natsushima, Kanagawa prefecture on the 8th and 9th of August 1887.

The copy of the Natsushima draft that survives shows neat overstriking, as follows, reflecting how the original version was edited to eliminate the treatment of naturalization as a separate subject.

Article 49 of 1887 Natsushima draft

凡ソ日本臣民タル資格ノ得喪及歸化ニ関スル規則ハ法律ノ定ムル所ニ依ル

All gain and loss of qualifications for being a subject of Japan and regulations concerning naturalization shall be according to determinations of law.

Article 18 of 1890 Constitution

日本臣民タル要件ハ法律ノ定ムル所ニ依ル

The requisites for being a subject of Japan shall be according to determinations of law.

Article 10 of 1947 Constitution

日本国民たる要件は、法律でこれを定める。

The requisites for being a national of Japan shall be determined by law.

Notes

The above overview of the edition of Article 49 is based on Ninomiya 1983:223. The overstriking is based on an examination of images of the Natsushima draft featured at 日本憲法の誕生 (Birth of the Constitution of Japan), a digital exhibition posted by the National Diet Library.

凡ソ (oyoso) was widely used in older laws to mark the start of an article, which typically began with a topic statement like 凡ソ・・・ハ or 凡ソ・・・モ. As such it emphasizes the "as for . . ." or " . . . as well" feelings of these statements.

Here I have rendered 凡ソ "all" mainly to have something to delete in the English version. See The genesis of Articles 10 and 14 for an example of how 凡そ国民は (oyoso kokumin wa) became すべて国民は (subete kokumin wa) in drafts of the 1947 Constitution.

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Primacy of family law

In 1887, Inoue Kowashi prepared a draft of a "National Status Law" (国民身分法 Kokumin mibun hō). This was the first draft of an organic nationality law. Articles 12 and 14 concerned nationalization and grand naturalization.

By 1889 or so, apparently to accommodate the terminology of the new constitution, the draft had been retitled the "Imperial Subject Status Law" (帝国臣民身分法 Teikoku shinmin mibun hō). Itō, Inoue, and others incorporated some of Roesler's opinions in the draft, then submitted it to the Privy Council Imperial Status Law Committee.

The Privy Council committee renamed the draft "Nationality Law of Japan" (日本国籍法 Nihon kokuseki hō). All instances of "status as subject" (臣民身分) and "status as national" (国民身分) became "nationality" 国籍 (kokuseki). (Ninomiya 1983:223-224)

1890 Civil Code

Provisions for "standing as a national" (国民分限 kokumin bungen) were embedded in the old Civil Code, promulgated as Law No. 98 of 7 October 1890. However, this code -- modelled after the French civil code -- was never enforced, owing to controversy over its effects on family law.

Chapter 2, titled "Acquisition of the standing of national" (国民分限ノ取得 Kokumin bungen no shutoku), contained provisions for gain and loss of national status. At this point, conditions and forms of naturalization were to be covered by a special law.

A heavily revised Civil Code, structured more like German law, was finally promulgated and enforced in two parts on 27 April 1896 (Books I-III, Law No. 89) and on 21 June 1898 (Books IV-V, Law No. 9) -- without provisions on nationality. The entire Civil Code was enforced from 16 July 1898.

While the promulgated but unenforced 1890 Civil Code was being revamped, drafts of a comprehensive nationality law, covering also naturalization, went back and forth between the Imperial Diet and various committees. As with the civil code, the main concern with the nationality law was that it reflect Japanese family law. (Ninomiya 1983:226-230, Hosokawa 1990:182-184)

See 1890 Civil Code for text, translation, and more commentary on "National status" section of 1890 Civil Code.

Corporate families

Family law principles and practices which had to be accommodated by the Nationality Law included the following (Ninomiya 1983:230-231).

Singular identity of husband and wife
Singular identity of family
Incoming husband marriage
Adoption alliance

The singularity of spousal and familial identity -- by then the foundation of family registration practices -- was pretty much in line with emerging international principles of one nationality per couple and one nationality per family.

The presumption reflected in the nationality laws of many other countries -- that a wife would follow her husband, and that children of married parents would identify with their father's family and locality -- also dovetailed with practices in Japan, which were mostly patrilocal and patrilineal. This meant that, with some exceptions, an alien wife would lose her original nationality and gain her husband's nationality, and their children would gain their father's nationality.

However, Japanese family law, which regarded a registered family as a corporate entity, permitted males to enter other families as an adopted son or husband. Male-heir and husband adoption practices, more peculiar to Japan, had already been accommodated by the 1873 proclamation that permitted alliances of marriage or adoption between Japanese and aliens.

Predicated on family law

The extent to which the criteria for acquiring and losing Japanese nationality were predicated on family law -- and the essentially territorial quality of family registers -- cannot be overstressed.

It is highly significant that Japanese family law also became the standard by which Japan was to legally assimilate Taiwan, Karafuto, and Chosen into the prefectural system -- and that the territoriality of family registers became the standard by which imperial subjects changed their legal status within the empire.

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Initial determination

In the context of nationality law, an "initial determination" is a description of who qualifies as a national at the time a state first defines its nationality. It is of some interest that Japan's 1899 Nationality Law came into effect without an initial determination. No legislation, ordinance, or decree defined the population of "Japanese" that would gain or lose members through the application of new law.

Though 国籍 (kokuseki) means "national register" affiliation, there is no "national register" as such in Japan. There are only "family registers" (戸籍 koseki), which after their nationalization from 1872 came to double as registries of nationals. When Japan enforced its first Nationality Law in 1899, it was merely assumed that Japan's initial nationality, or demographic territory, consisted of everyone who was a member of a family register affiliated with Japan's sovereign territory.

Since it came into effect in 1899, the Nationality Law has determined who should be added to a family register because they newly qualify for nationality, or who should be removed because they no longer qualify. Hence proof of nationlaity is membership in a family register.

Here I will review some remarks by others on the problem of what is called "initial determination" in nationality law parlance.

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Hosokawa Kiyoshi on "initial determination"

Hosokawa Kiyoshi, a career Ministry of Justice legalist who has specialized in nationality law, makes only this somewhat flawed statement about initial determination in his English overview (Hosokawa 1990:190-191; see Bibliography for particulars and review).

INITIAL DETERMINATION OF THE BODY OF NATIONALS

It is generally agreed in Japan that the modern concept of nationality as membership of a State was established after the creation of the modern State of Japan, i.e., the creation of Imperial Japan in 1868. In 1871, the new central Government promulgated the Family Registration Law, [Note 61] which established a system for registering all Japanese nationals in a family register [Koseki]. Two years later, the first formal legislation on nationality, the Proclamation of the Great Council of State No. 103 of 1973, was promulgated. [Note 62]

All this legislation presupposed a definite body of Japanese nationals to which it applied. However, no formal law had ever been enacted which dealt with the question of how this body of Japanese nationals was to be determined.

The regime of the TOKUGAWA Shogunate which preceded the MEIJI era had closed Japan to virtually all foreign intercourse since the seventeenth century. This policy of extreme isolation was strictly followed until the creation of the MEIJI Government in 1868. It followed that the population of Japan at that time consisted almost entirely of ethnic Japanese who were born and had been residing in Japan for several generations. Thus, in the eyes of the MEIJI Government, it was a matter of course that such people became Japanese nationals under the new regime. Accordingly, all inhabitants of Japan were treated as Japanese nationals and registered as such in the family register except those who were clearly identified as having been born outside Japan. [Note 63]

Note 61. Kosekiho, Proclamation of the Great Council of State No. 170 of 1871.

Note 62. See supra, sub-Part 3.1. <Hosokawa 1990:181-182, The Proclamation of 1873>

Note 63. See M. Ninomiya, Kokusekiho ni okeru Danjo Byodo [Equality of the Sexes in Nationality Law] (Tokyo, 1983) p. 218.

Crossing the line between law and social history is always a dangerous enterprise. Hosokawa's impulse to oversimplify and racialize Japan's complex social history gets him into trouble here. His reference to Ninomiya at the end of the last paragraph is also misleading.

While Hosokawa may have been inspired by Ninomiya's remarks about the meaning of "Japanese" before the advent of "kokuseki" (see above and below), Ninomiya said nothing about Japan being "closed . . . to virtually all foreign intercourse since the seventeenth century" -- nothing about the population of Japan consisting "almost entirely of ethnic Japanese" -- nothing about family registers -- and nothing about initial determination.

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Ninomiya Masato on "the starting point kokumin"

I have already shown a full translation of Ninomiya's statement about the origin of jus sanguinis in Japan's Nationality Law under the The birth of "kokuseki" section at the top of this page. Here, again, I am showing the entire paragraph, marking this time the lines that are most closely associated with Hosokawa's remarks (see above section) about "initial determination" (Ninomiya 1983:218, bold emphasis mine).

The concept of kokuseki (国籍 state affiliation, nationality) in the present age is something that was shaped concomitant with the formation of recent-age [modern] states, and issues before then should probably be taken up as legal historical themes. The concept of "kokuseki" (「国籍」) is something that was introduced (移入された) from foreign countries. The term's origin (語源) is "Staatsangehörigkeit". However, it was not that this term (語) was immediately translated (訳された) as "kokuseki". The translated term (訳語) corresponding to this term in the constitution draft of Roesler in 1887 was "kokumin taru shikaku" (「国民タル資格」"qualifications to be a national"). This was not a matter of regarding someone who possess "kokuseki" as a "kokumin" (「国民」"national"), but was the starting point of the concept of "kokumin". Accordingly, laws which existed before the establishment of the kokuseki concept were merely laws that differentiated between "Japanese" (日本人) and "aliens" (外国人). Also, under the closed-country system in which there was no inside/outside [outsider/insider] mixed residence (内外混住), "Japanese" in the racial sense was at once "Japanese" in the legal sense. For this reason, it can be said that jus sanguinis (血統主義) in the Nationality Law is something traditional since the uji-kabane system (氏姓制度) in antiquity. As for [when] the term "kika" (「帰化」"change of allegiance") was first used in a recent-age [modern] sense [of meaning "naturalization"], [that] was in Tsuda Shin'ichirō's translation Taiseikoku hō ron (泰西国法論 "On laws of far west countries") published in 1866. In the rest [of this section], I will take up the development process of the concepts of "kokuseki" and "naturalization" in each period.

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Sawaki Takao on proto-nationals

Sawaki Takao (1931-1993) was a professor of law at St. Paul's University. His speciality was international private law, which includes nationality law.

Here I wish to examine the remarks Sawaki made concerning the initial determination of Japanese nationality, in an article that was part of a feature on discrimination and the Nationality Law in the 7 August 1981 issue of Asahi Journal. See Sawaki 1981 in the Nationality section of the Bibliography for full particulars and a review.

On a personal note, Sawaki was one of the three scholars who wrote the expert opinion submitted in the Tokyo District Court hearings in Shapiro v. State (1977-u360). The same opinion was submitted in two other nationality confirmation cases, of my children, Sugiyama v. State (1978-u175) and Sugiyama v. State (1982-u57). He also wrote the most thorough overview of the first (Tokyo District Court) decisions handed down in the Shapiro case and the first Sugiyama case in March 1981. See Sugiyama v. State for further details on both cases and references to related publications.

In the following remark, Sawaki recognizes the historical background that make it perfectly natural to view "Japanese" as an essentially racioethnic entity. However, he clearly points out, as not many analyists do, that the Nationality Law embraces all people who are Japanese regardless of their racioethnic ancestry.

Japan, which adopted the view of a state based on blood relations [descent] (血縁 ketsuen)

Article 1 of the old [1899] Nationality Law provided that "A child will be a Japanese when at the time of birth its father is Japanese." The form of this provision is the same in Item 1 of Article 2 of the present [1950] Nationality law. There, naturally what logically becomes a problem, is the problem of by what is it determined whether or not the father is Japanese? If we trace this logic back, it becomes a matter in which in the beginning proto-Japanese (原始日本人 genshi Nihonjin; primitive, primeval, primordial, original, archetypal Japanese) had to exist.

In nationality statutes in foreign countries, it is not that there are no examples which stipulate proto-nationals by civilization. And, in cases where they are the first nationality statute, there appear to be many examples in which proto-nationals are taken to be the residents. However, like the nationality law of our nation, there are many [nationality laws] that do not have a stipulation about proto-nationals. And so, [in such states], following the historical traditions of the respective state, while centering on residents, the scope of those who are [were] its own nationals was probably determined [without stipulation in the law].

And so, what was probably the case of Japan? As for those who were residing in the nation of Japan at the time the Nationality Law was established in 1899, it cannot possibly be thought that all had become nationals of Japan. Meanwhile, because at the time already American migration [emigration to America] had begun, it was not that it had regarded these overseas compatriots (海外同胞 kaigai dŏhŏ) aliens. However again, as according to the 1873 proclamation, [the law] recognized an alien women who had married a Japanese as Japanese, and a Japanese woman who had married an alien man as someone who does not possess the nationality of Japan, it was not a simple thing based on ethnonation = blood descentism [blood relation doctrine] (民族=血縁主義 minzoku = ketsuen shugi). When looking at it this way, with respect to the differentiation of Japanese and aliens, something a simple thing the alien women, the time of 1899 had no special meaning, rather it is more appropriate to think of it as something that confirmed the facts of the past.

In 1898 the [new] Family Registration Law was established, wherein it was stated that only those who possess the nationality of Japan could decide a principal register (本籍 honseki), but, though from the nature of the law [this] is a matter of course (法律の性質上当然のことである), who is a national of has not been decided. However, though certainly a family register that is contrary to truth can be denied [disavowed, negated] by contrary evidence. Meanwhile, that a recording (登載 tōsai) to a family register is a provisional confirmation that [one] is a national of Japan, probably cannot be denied.

If this be so, the quest for proto-Japanese in the sense of international law, is not a problem in which it is sufficient to simply trace a blood line (血統 kettō) to the past. Rather this is to be sought in [the question of] what scope of those [persons] did [officials] record in family registers as nationals, at the time Japan formed as a modern state (近代国家 kindai kokka). The Jinshin registers of Meiji 4 (1871), have been characterized as official [public] registries (公簿 kōbo) that ought to record nationals of Japan -- similarly, without clarifying who was a national of Japan. As the first registers of Japan as a modern state, they, at the same time, were things which had the meaning of [being] the determination of the scope of nationals of Japan by official [public] authority. Accordingly, the problem of proto-Japanese becomes nothing more than a problem of what scope of people [were] recorded in these family registers, and what was the criterion. It very likely [was such that], those had been accepted at the time in the society of Japan as a community of residents (住民共同体 jūmin kyŏdŏtai, Gemeinschaft of residsents), and whose qualification of being its member had been recognized by general legal awareness, probably became the center [of scope of those considered nationals of Japan]; but the discriminatory nature (差別性 sabetsusei) of Jinshin registers has already been pointed out, and it is clear that they were not just registrations of residents.

Jinshin registers

Sawaki has associated "Jinshin registers" with the wrong year. The Family Registration Law was promulgated in 1871, but it came into effect the following year, which in the sexagenary cycle (干支 kanshi, eto) was designated "Jinshin" (壬申), hence "Jinshin registers" (壬申戸籍 Jinshin koseki).

A proto-Japanese cannot possibly be a person other than a person who came to be recognized as Japanese by people from before [previously]. However, concretely it is someone confirmed by official authority, through a recording to a family registier.

The modern state of Japan, which changed from being a community of residents to a political community of nationals, adopted preferential patrilineal jus sanguinis (父系優先血統主義 fukei yūsen kettō shugi) as a tenet [principle] of community integration. Namely, [this] is the statutory doctrine (立法主義 rippō shugi) in which a child who is born of a Japanese father becomes a national of Japan.

This sort of view of a state based on blood relations [descent] (血縁 ketsuen) is widely recognized in Germany, France, and other [countries], and Japan also adopted it. It can be said that, from the international circumstances in which Meiji Japan was situated, stipulating [defining] itself as a blood-related group, rather than as a territorily-related group, was a natural choice.

This section goes on for another half page about issues that don't concern the topic of intial determination.

In the above extract, Sawaki made some interersting and vital points about why Japan's population registers became the starting point of its legal "nation" for purposes of applying its 1899 Nationality Law. However, a number of his observations, in the rest of the above section, and elsewhere in his article, are problematic. Here are just a few examples.

Sawaki on naturalization

Sawaki also noted that Japan's nationality laws have been fairly permissive in their views of the naturaliztaion of Japanese to other countries, as in the following paragraph, which immediately follows the above extraction (Sawaki 1981:96).

The old [1899] nationality law, related to military service and some other duties, had certain constraints, but [it] recognized the principle of freedom of nationality. Once born as a Japanese, one would forever be a Japanese, there was no incorporation of feudal domination and subjection concepts, and recognized the naturaliation of its own nationals to alien countries, and on the other hand recognized also the naturalization of aliens to Japan. However, concerning the latter, it has been pointed out that, from population policies, and racioethnic purism, this permission [of aliens to naturalize] did not come to be easily recognized. The peculiar fusion of worship of the outside and exclusion of the outside in modern Japan, has come to leave its subtle shadow, in the background of the modern legal system, in the aspect of nationality also. However, it can be said that changes can be seen, in recent years, also in the administration of naturalization.

While Sawaki correctly attributed constraints on alien naturalization to adminstrative policies rather than to the Nationality Law itself, his imputation of these constraints to government policies is only half the truth.

Like many critics of racialism, and the use of law to foster racialism, Sawaki fails to point out the shortcomings of attitudes of people in general toward the law as a raceless civil instrument.

Though true that some bureaucrats have used their authority to administer naturalization provisions in arguably racialist ways, blame also has to be put on the lawmakers who have allowed such bureaucrats to have their way.

Blame also has to be put on the people who have allowed the naturalization system to continue as it has without much protest. I refer not only to Japanese who have spoken out about naturalization proceedures -- which, for sure, could be a bit simpler -- but also to resident aliens -- who have been better at complaining than acting.

Many Koreans in Japan, for example, have racialized their own and Japanese nationality to the point that they easily believe their own myths about the difficulty of naturalizing in Japan. The only real issue -- at the time Sawaki wrote this article -- was the Ministry of Justice's extralegal (and argually illegal) administrative guidance concerning the kinds of names that naturalizers (particularly Chinese and Koreans) were expected (and at times pressured) to adopt as Japanese.

No Korean organization ever mounted a systematic and protracted movement against the governments administrative policies concerning names. Most advocacy groups still prefer to insist on what amount to special privileges for themselves as perpetual victims of history. They themselves impute racial qualities to Japanese nationality -- qualities which have no foundation in the law or its administration. In any event, names are the providence of the Family Register Law, not the Nationality Law.

Sawaki on state and race

Sawaki next touches upon the problem of dual nationality, particularly as it affected children born in right-of-soil states like the United States who would also gain the nationality of Japan through a Japanese father, and the problem of differentiating between the state as a political community of nationals defined by nationality, and group defined by blood descent. China, also, had this problem.

1930 Hague Convention on Nationality

Sawaki notes that the Hague Convention on Nationality called for the elimination of stateless and dual nationality in accordance with the principle that everyone should have one and only one nationality (see Dual nationality treaties and Statelessness treaties).

He observes that Japan's Nationality Law had evolved into a law which reflected the provisions of the Hague convention. He alludes to the revisions made in the 1899 Nationality Law, and retained in the 1950 law, which provided for "the event that children born in place-of-birth states to Japanese fathers, became nationals of the country of their birth, and did not hold (保有 hoyū) the nationality of Japan" (Sawaki 1981:96).

Japan's nationality law thus came to adopt the international principle of one nationality per person. And this, Sawaki argues, confirms that in Japan "a political community of nationals mediated [conveyed, borne, transmitted] by nationality and a blood-related [descent] group are different things (国籍を媒介とする政治的国民共同体と血縁集団とは別個のものである kokuseki o baikai to suru seijiteki kokumin kyōdōtai to ketsuen shūdan to wa bekko no mono de aru)" (Sawaki 1981:96).

1980 People's Republic of China

At this point Sawaki segues to the People's Republic of China, which had recently enforced a new nationality law (Sawaki 1981:96).

One can see the same kind of problem in the nationality problem of overseas Chinese [Chinese sojourners abroad] (在外華僑 zaigai Kakyō) in the new Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China. However, notwithstanding such legislative pretenses (法制上の建前 hoseijō no tatemae) [in Japan's Nationality Law], it is a fact that, like the aforementioned [policies] toward naturalizers [see above], in the sentiments toward Japanese Americans (日系アメリカ人 Nikkei Amerikajin), there remain problems which cannot be solved by the state and race [ethnonation] (国家と民族 kokka to minzoku) system.

This is a fairly conventional -- but somewhat flawed -- criticism of Japan's "sentiments" (感情 kanjō) toward "Nikkeijin" (日系人 nikkeijin) -- meaning "people related to Japan" by virtue of family register ancestry.

See Nikkeijin for an account of what this term means and doesn't.

To be continued.

Note on "Nikkeijin"

Note that "Nikkeijin" is also often racialized in English reports as "ethnic Japanese" -- an English term which has no foundation in Japanese law. Neither race nor ethnicity operate in the application of Japanese laws that mitigate rules for aliens who are related to Japanese or former Japanese when applying for a status of residence or for naturalization. The applicants "relatedness" to Japan is not based on race or ethnicity, but on a documentable trail back to a family register in Japan.

In 1989, eight years after Sawaki wrote his article, Japan revised its Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law to include a long-term residence status for a variety of people. This status was not a visa but, like permanent residence, is an unrestricted activity status of residence.

The long term status was created for a variety of people, including refugees, war displaced persons and their families relocating from China and other countries, certain classifications of alien family members of Japanese residing in Japan -- and, related to the "nikkeijin" discussion here, alien children or grandchildren or Japanese emigrants -- meaning Japanese now residing overseas -- who wished to work in Japan.

Since 1 June 1990, when the revision came into effect, many Nikkeijin aliens, mostly from Brazil and Peru, have been permitted to enter Japan as long-term resident aliens. Many have brought their spouse and children, and many such family members would not themselves have qualified for the long-term status.

Aliens who qualify as third-generation Nikkeijin get one-year renewable long-term residence permits. Second-generation nikkeijin get three-year renewable permits. Emigrants who have renounced or lost their Japanese nationality, though now aliens, are not eligible for the long-term status. Emigrant who have remained Japanese need only their Japanese passports to enter Japan, where they are free to live as they like and, if they wish, register in Japan as residents -- i.e., re-establish their domiciles in Japan.

Note that the term "Nikkeijin" is not used in the description of the qualifications for long-term resident status.

Sawaki on differentiation of nationals

Sawaki implies -- i.e., he insinuates without stating -- that Japan's nationality law does not differentiate nationals by race or ethnicity (Sawaki 1981:97).

The Nationality Law of our country, at least legislatively (法制上 hōseijō), in the same way that it didn't come to recognize varieties of nationality like [natural] born nationals (生来国民 seirai kokumin) and naturalized nationals (帰化国民 kika kokumin), did not recognize classifications like mainland [interior] nationals (本土国民 hondo kokumin) and colony [exterior] nationals (植民地国民 shokuminchi kokumin). However, in reality, [Japan] seized upon [the device] of, through the family register system, differentiating Japanese who possess principal registers (本籍 honseki) in the interior (内地 naichi) and those who do not, and this differentiation was adopted as is in the solution of nationality problems after World War II.

As elsewhere in his article, this observation is marred by errors and half-truths.

Born and naturalized nationals

Contrary to what Sawaki claims, Articles 16 and 17 of the 1899 Nationality Law drew a clear line between those who had become Japanese through birth, and those who had obtained their nationality through other provisions. The latter included not just "naturalized" Japanese (as Sawaki implies), but also Japanese who had obtained their nationality through marriage or adoption.

Article 16 listed several high level political and military posts for which the latter were not eligible.

Article 17 provided that the Minister of Justice could remove the restrictions after five years for those who had acquired nationality through grand naturalization (Article 11), and after ten years for others.

All such restrictions ended with the enforcement of the 1950 Nationality Law.

Interior and exterior nationals

Also contrary to what Sawaki implies, the family registration system was not particularly contrived as a means of differentiating the imperial subnations.

Registers within the interior (prefectures) were themselves territorial. Registers were primarily affiliated with municipalities. Their prefectural affiliations changed when prefectural borders were redrawn, as often happened during the first two decades of the Meiji period. Even today, mergers of municipalities result in new family register jurisdictions.

Taiwan and Korea already had population registers that were essentially territorial. Karafuto already had some registers were vestiges of early Japanese administration of parts of the island.

In any event, Taiwan, Karafuto, and Korea were legally differentiated territories at the time Japan incorporated them into its sovereign empire. The histories of social change in these territories, when they were parts of Japan, are histories of a gradual introduction of interior-style family law to the exterior subnations.

These histories, though somewhat different for each of the exterior subnations, have in common the slow but steady removal of territorial distinctions, with the long-term aim of total legal integration. As histories go, they are not essentially different from other histories of territorial annexation, merger, or integration.

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J. E. De Becker on initial determinantion

Gilbert Bowles made the following comment in his 1915 pamphlet Japanese Law of Nationality (see content of entire pamplet below).

Concerning the above Article [Article 16, listing offices and posts that cannot be held by "Naturalized persons, children of naturalized persons who have acquired Japanese nationality, and persons who have become adopted children or nyufu of Japanese"]. Mr. J.E. DeBecker [sic] says in his "Annoted [sic] Civil Code of Japan", "These restrictions do not apply to the very few aliens who were naturalized by adoption prior to 1st April, 1899. They, in the contemplation of the law, are native-born."

De Becker was referring to many former alien men and women who had become Japanese through marriage under the 1873 proclamation on marriage and adoption alliances between Japanese and aliens. He was also referring to himself. For in 1891, as the incoming husband of Kobayashi Ei, he became a Japanese named Kobayashi Beika (see full story below).

Bowles does not give further particulars, but he appears to be referring to the Appendix of De Becker's 1909 translation of the 1898 Civil Code, which is supposed to include De Becker's translation of the 1899 Nationality Law. I have not been able to examine a copy of this work, but from various sources I gather that the particulars are as follows.

J. E. De Becker (デ・ベッカー)
Annotated Civil Code of Japan (日本民法注解)
London: Butterworth
Yokohama: Kelley & Walsh
Volumes 1 and 2, 1909
Volumes 3 and 4, 1910

A Tokyo antiquarian bookseller made the following observation in its offering of a complete first edition set for 189,000 yen (retrieved September 2007).

明治31年(1898)施行された明治民法典は、不平等条約のもとで欧米と多くのトラブルを生んだ.そのため、欧米側の解説書として本書が編まれたが、これは翌年の不平等条約撤廃に大きく寄与したものと考えられる。

The Civil Code, enforced in 1898, gave birth to lots of trouble with Euro-America under unequal treaties. Consequency, these volumes were compiled as Euro-America-side commentaries, and they are thought to have greatly contributed to the abolution of the unequal treaties the following year.

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Aoki Shuzo's constitution

The 1890 Constitution did not define "Japan" and left the determination of "subjects of Japan" to law. The 1899 Nationality Law stipulated the rules for acquiring and losing Japanese nationality from the time the law came into effect, but it did not state criteria for determining who was Japanese at the time the law came into effect.

1872-1874 draft by Aoki Shūzō

During the first decades of the Meiji period, there were numerous proposals for a constitution. Over forty drafts of proposals are known. Most lists begin with the 1872-1874 work of Aoki Shūzō (青木周蔵 1844-1914), who had studied in Germany from 1868 and joined the Foreign Ministry in 1873.

In 1874, Aoki became Japan's minister to Germany. It was through Aoki that Karl Friedrich Hermann Roesler (1834-1894) came to Japan in 1878 to advise the Foreign Ministry on matters of law.

On 25 January 1877, under the 1873 Proclamation on the making of marriage and adoption alliances with aliens, Aiki was permitted to marry Elisabeth von Rhade, a German woman.

Aoki served as foreign minister several times, under several prime ministers, during the late 1880s and 1890s.

Aoki was Japan's minister to both Germany and Great Britain 1894 when the Great Britain and Japan negotiated a new treaty of commerce that ended extraterritoriality in 1899. The negotiations did not go particularly well because Japan had held up the enforcement of a controversial civil code, and did not yet have a commercial code. did not yet have a civil code or commercial code.

Finally, on 16 July 1894, the two countries signed the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, also called the Aoki-Kimberley Treaty, because the names of these two men appear on the treaty. Japan agreed not to seek to enforce the treaty until its codes were fully operative (Kayaoglu 2004:25-30).

Turan Kayaoglu, a professor of political science at the University of Washington, has presented a fascinating overview of the "Abolition of Extraterritoriality in Japan, 1894-1899" in a working paper called Sovereignty, State-Building and the Abolition of Extraterritoriality (May 2004). The paper focuses on Japan, Turkey, and China.

Aoki was the ambassador to the United States in 1906.

帝号大日本政典 (Teigō Dai-Nippon seiten) must have struck people as impressive. 帝号 was an imperial name, in particular the posthumous name of an emperor, and could mean all emperors. 大日本 was a beautified name for the country. 政典 was the title of an 8th century Tang compendium of political conventions.

Together these elements meant something like "State Codes of Great Japan of Emperors" -- or simply "Codes of Imperial Japan".

The heavily edited draft of Aoki's constitution shows some remarkable honing of terminology and phrasing.

Aoki Shuzo's Imperial Japan State Code proposal
"Rights and duties of Nationals"

Japanese text

The following Japanese is my transcription made images of Aoki Shūzō's 1872-1874 constitution proposal shown at 日本憲法の誕生 (Birth of the Constitution of Japan), a digital exhibition posted by the National Diet Library.

The NDL site also features a transcription, but of only the final version. The transcription uses present-day characters, hiragana, and punctuation, and has some errors.

Here I have shown the original version with corrections. Because the original is a brushed manuscript in more than one hands, there is some variation in the representation of the same characters. Hence I have shown all characters in their present-day form.

English translation

The translation is mine (William Wetherall).

帝号大日本政典 State Codes of Imperial Japan
第一  疆土 No. 1   National borders Territory of the Empire

第一章
現今帝国ニ附属スル諸州諸島ノ土壌ハ即チ日本国タルベシノ疆土タリ

Article 1
The soil of all the provinces and all the islands presently affiliated with the Empire shall be the territory of the nation of Japan.

第二章
右日本国ノ疆界ハ典則法律ニ由ルニ非レハ [解下ニ見ルベシ] 決シテ之ヲ変革スル事能ハザルモノトス

Article 2
It shall never be possible to change the borders of the nation of Japan [as defined to] the right if not by law [see commentary below].

第二   国民ノ権利及其負責義務 No. 2   Rights and liabilities duties of nationals

第三章
人民土籍ニ入ッテ日本国の民位ニ列シ或ハ其位ヲ脱スル?ノ事件ニ総テ政務両局ノ裁判ト係ルベシ 日本国民タル本分ヲ与奪スルノ規程ハ法律ヲ以テ之ヲ裁定スベシ

Article 3
Rules for conferring or depriving the condition of being a national of Japan shall be decided by law

第四章
日本国民ノ民位ハ華族ト平民ニ止ルベシ且ツ其両族ノ国民銘々随意ノ職業ニ就ク事以往自由タルベシタラシムベシ

Article 4
The population positions of nationals of Japan shall stop at peers and commoners, and nationals of both these groups shall hereafter be be made to be free to engage in occupations of their own option.

第五章
日本国固有主ハ即チ闔国ノ人民ニシテ日本国位ニ列スルノ本分ヲ所有スル者是ナリ

Article 5
Inherent guardians of the soil territory of the nation of Japan, that is the people of the entire nation, shall be those who rank among the population positions of the nation possess the condition of national of Japan.

Aoki spoke of 日本国ノ民位 (Nihonkoku no min'i) to speak of "the status of the people of Japan" in calling for an end to "peers" (華族 kazoku) and "commoner" (平民 heimin) statuses.

He used 人民 (jinmin) most commonly when referring more generally to "people" as in "people's abodes" (人民ノ住家 jinmin no jūka), "people's residences" (人民ノ居宅 jinmin no kyotaku), and "people's possessions" (人民ノ固有物 jinmin no koyūbutsu).

He spoke of both 日本人タル者 (Nihonjin taru mono) and Article 15 華族平民の差別なく、総て日本人たる者は providing for equality between husbands and wives Article 57 Speaking of 議官 as being the representatives of the 日本人民

There are tracks that show the momentum of minimimalization toward the most general, comprehensive stipulations, like this topic statement provision about military service obligations and qualifications.

華族平民ノ差別ナク総テ日本国ノ民位ニ列スル者ハ

All those who rank among the population positions of the nation of Japan without differentiation of peers and heimin

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1899 Nationality Law

The 1899 Nationality Law established, for the first time in Japan, legal criteria for acquiring and losing Japanese nationality. Naturalization also became possible, for the first time, with the enforcement of this law from 1 April 1899.

While providing measures for naturalization, the 1899 law continued to recognize the principles of nationality acquired through marriage or adoption, set down in the 1873 Great Council of State Proclamation No. 103, and the modifications stipualted in Law No. 21 of 1898. A few months after the new law came into force, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an ordinance (No. 51 of 1899), related to both the 1873 proclamation and the 1899 law, concerning procedures for obtaining permission to make an alien an adopted son or incoming husband, which would cause the alien to become Japanese.


Promulgation and revision history

The 1899 Nationality Law (Law No. 66) was promulgated on 16 May 1899 and enforced from 1 April 1899. It was revised four times -- in 1916 and in 1924, and twice in 1947 (effective in 1948). It remained in effect until 1 July 1950, when the 1950 Nationality Law (Law No. 147), promulgated on 4 May 1950, came into force, thereby abolishing it.

Year Law / Ord Promulgated Enforced Major changes
1899 Law 66 16 Mar 1899 1 Apr 1899 Naturalization begins
1899 Law 94 19 Mar 1899 1 Apr 1899 Rights of families losing nationality
1899 Imperial Ordinance No. 289 21 Jun 1899 21 Jun 1899 Extended application of law to Taiwan
1916 Law 27 16 Mar 1916 1 Aug 1916 Some renunciation permitted
1924 Imperial Ordinance No. 88 (16) 18 Apr 1924 1 Aug 1924 Extended application of law to Karafuto
1924 Law 19 22 Jul 1924 1 Dec 1924 Intent to retain nationality begins
1924 Ord 26 17 Nov 1924 1 Dec 1924 Enforcement regulations
1947 Law 239 26 Dec 1947 1 Jan 1948 Home Affairs Minister
→ competent minister
1947 Law 195 17 Dec 1947 15 Feb 1948 competent minister
→ Attorney General

ChōsenThe Nationality Law was never applied to Chōsen, which meant that Japanese nationality associated with membership in Chōsen's population registers was gained and lost in accordance with Chōsen's population register laws.

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1899 Nationality Law (Law No. 66 of 1899)
Reflecting 1916, 1924, and 1947 revisions

Japanese text

The following Japanese text as been constructed from two sources: (1) Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974 (pages 831-842, especially 831-834), and (2) the website of the research group of Okuda Yasuhiro (奥田安弘), a law professor at Chuo University Law School (中央大学法科大学院 Chūō Daigaku Hōka Daigakuin). Okuda, a specialist in international law, has also been involved in nationality and family register law issues.

Tashiro presents the original law and each revision separately, while Okuda shows the most recent revision and notes the revisions. While my layout has been inspired more by Okuda's style, I have followed Tashiro's more complete and typographically more orthodox texts. A couple of transcription errors have been corrected.

English translations

The structural translation is mine (William Wetherall). The numbers are as stipulated in the original.

The received translation is from Richard W. Flournoy, Jr., and Manley O. Hudson, A Collection of Nationality Laws of Various Countries as Contained in Constitutions, Statutes and Treaties, New York] Oxford University Press, 1929, pages 382-386. The source attribution is "Text from British Parliamentary Papers, Miscellaneous, No. 1 (1827), Cmd. 2852, p. 39." Notes are numbered as received.

The section titles were inspired by those in a six-page pamphlet compiled by Gilbert Bowles called Japanese Law of Nationality (Tokyo, 15 May 1915). Bowles shows only extracts or summaries of a translation he attributed to J. E. D Becker in the Appendix of Annotated Civil Code of Japan, which I have not seen. De Becker's translation is generally accurate but its phrasing tends to be interpretive rather than structural.

Revisions

The Japanese text and the structural translation reflect all the revisions according to the colors shown in the following table. The received translation, however, reflects the 1924 version of the law ("Law No. 66, of March 1899, as revised by Law No. 27, of March 1916, and by Law No. 19, of July 1924, effective from December 1, 1924") with the minor 1947 revisions.

Black Original law  Law 66, 16 March 1899, from 1 April 1899
Blue 1st revision  Law 27, 16 March 1916, from 1 August 1916
Purple 2nd revision  Law 19, 22 July 1924, from 1 December 1924
Red 3rd revision  Law 239, 26 December 1947, from 1 January 1948
Green 4th revision  Law 195, 17 December 1947, from 15 February 1948
国籍法 Nationality Law
Japanese text Structural translation
朕帝国議会ノ協賛ヲ経タル国籍法ヲ裁可シ茲ニ之ヲ公布セシム

   御名御璽
     明治三十二年三月十五日
       内閣総理大臣 侯爵 山県 有朋
       内務大臣 侯爵 西郷 従道

法律第六十六号 (官報三月十六日)
I [the emperor] sanction the Law of Nationality which has passed the approval of the Imperial Diet and herein promulgate it.



   Imperial seal [Mutsuhito]
     Meiji 32-3-15 [15 March 1899]
       Prime Minister of the Cabinet Marquis Yamagata Aritomo
       Minister of Home Affairs Marquis Saigo Tsugumichi



Law No. 66 (Kanpo 16 March)

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Nationality of children
Japanese text and structural translation
(1899 law with 1916, 1924, 1947 revisions)
Received translation
(1899 law as of 1924)

第一条
子ハ出生ノ時其父カ日本人ナルトキハ之ヲ日本人トス其出生前ニ死亡シタル父カ死亡ノ時日本人ナリシトキ亦同シ

Article 1
A child will be a Japanese [Nihonjin] when at the time of birth its father is Japanese. The same will [apply] when the father who has died before its birth was a Japanese at the time of death.

Article 1
A child is [shall be] regarded as a Japanese if its father is at the time of its birth a Japanese. The same applies if the father who died before the child's birth was at the time of his death a Japanese.

第二条
父カ子ノ出生前ニ離婚又ハ離縁ニ因リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタルトキハ前条ノ規定ハ懐胎ノ始ニ遡リテ之ヲ適用ス

前項ノ規定ハ父母カ共ニ其家ヲ去リタル場合ニハ之ヲ適用セス但母カ子ノ出生前ニ復籍ヲ為シタルトキハ此限ニ在ラス

Article 2
When the father has lost the nationality of Japan through a divorce [rikon] or a dissolution [rien] prior to the birth of the child, the provision of the preceding article will apply retroactively to the beginning of the pregnancy [kaitai].

The provision of the preceding article will not apply in the event the father and mother both have departed the family [the father entered through a marriage or an alliance and consequently acquired Japanese nationality]. However, when the mother has effected a restoration of [Japanese] nationality before the birth of the child, [this provision] will not apply. [ == Provided, however, that this will not apply when the mother has effected a restoration of [Japanese] nationality before the birth of the child.]

Article 2
If the father loses his nationality, either by divorce or by dissolution of adoption, before the child's birth, the provisions of the preceding article apply retroactively from the commencement of conception.

The provisions of the preceding paragraph do not apply in cases where both the father and the mother have left the family, except when the mother in such cases returns to the family before the child's birth.

第三条
父カ知レサル場合又ハ国籍ヲ有セサル場合ニ於テ母カ日本人ナルトキハ其子ハ之ヲ日本人トス

Article 3
When the mother is Japanese, in the event the father is not known or [in] the event [he] does not possess a nationality, the child will be a Japanese.

Article 3
In cases where the father cannot be ascertained, or has no nationality, if the mother is a Japanese the child is regarded as a Japanese.

第四条
日本ニ於テ生マレタル子ノ父母カ共ニ知レサルトキ又ハ国籍ヲ有セサルトキハ其子ハ之ヲ日本人トス

Article 4
When both the father and the mother of a child born in Japan are unknown or [mata wa] do not possess a nationality the child will be a Japanese.

Article 4
If neither the father nor the mother of a child born in Japan can be ascertained, of if they have no nationality, the child is regarded as a Japanese.

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How aliens may acquire Japanese nationality
Japanese text and structural translation
(1899 law with 1916, 1924, 1947 revisions)
Received translation
(1899 law as of 1924)

第五条
外国人ハ左ノ場合ニ於テ日本ノ国籍ヲ取得ス

  一 日本人ノ妻ト為リタルトキ
  ニ 日本人ノ入夫ト為リタルトキ
  三 日本人タル父又ハ母ニ依リテ認知セラレタルトキ
  四 日本人ノ養子ト為リタルトキ
  五 帰化ヲ為シタルトキ

Article 5
An alien will acquire the nationality of Japan in the events to the left:

  1. When [the alien] has become the wife of a Japanese;
  2. When [the alien] has become the incoming husband of a Japanese;
  3. When [the alien] has been recognized by [his or her] father or mother who is a Japanese;
  4. When [the alien] has become the adopted child of a Japanese;
  5. When [the alien] has effected naturalization.

Article 5
An alien acquires Japanese nationality in the following cases:

  (1) By becoming the wife of a Japanese.
  (2) By becoming the nyufu [Note 2] of a Japanese woman.
  (3) By acknowledgment by his or her father or mother who is a Japanese.
  (4) By adoption by a Japanese.
  (5) By becoming naturalized.

Note 2  A man who marries the female head of a family and becomes a member thereof.

第六条
外国人カ認知ニ因リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ取得スルニハ左ノ条件ヲ具備スルコトヲ要ス

  一 本国法ニ依リテ未成年者タルコト
  ニ 外国人ノ妻ニ非サルコト
  三 父母ノ中先ツ認知ヲ為シタル者カ日本人ナルコト
  四 父母カ同時ニ認知ヲ為シタルトキハ父カ日本人ナルコト

Article 6
When an alien acquires the nationality of Japan through recognition, [the alien] shall be required to have the qualifications to the left:

  1. Be a minor according to the laws of one's home country [hongoku];
  2. Not be the wife of an alien;
  3. The person who between the father and mother initially affected recognition is a Japanese
  4. When the father and mother have simultaneously effected recognition, the father is a Japanese.

Article 6
For an alien to acquire Japanese nationality by acknowledgment the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  (1) He or she must be a minor by the law of his or her country.
  (2) She must not be the wife of an alien.
  (3) The parent, whether father or mother, who has first made acknowledgment, must be a Japanese.
  (4) If the father and mother have made acknowledgment simultaneously, the father must be a Japanese.

第七条
外国人ハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ帰化ヲ為スコトヲ得

内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ハ左ノ条件ヲ具備スル者ニ非サレハ其帰化ヲ許可スルコトヲ得ス

  一 引続キ五年以上日本ニ住所ヲ有スルコト
  ニ 満二十年以上ニシテ本国法ニ依リ能カラ有スルコト
  三 品行端正ナルコト
  四 独立ノ生計ヲ営ムニ足ルヘキ資産又ハ技能アルコト
  五 国籍ヲ有セス又ハ日本ノ国籍ノ取得ニ因リテ其国籍ヲ失フヘキコト

Article 7

  1.
  2.
  3.
  4.
  5.

Article 7
An alien may become naturalized with the permission of the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General.

The Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General cannot permit naturalization, except in the case of persons fulfilling the following conditions:

  (1) Having had a domicile in Japan for five or more years consecutively.
  (2) Being of full twenty years of age or more, and having legal capacity by the law of his or her country.
  (3) Being of good character.
  (4) Having sufficient property, or ability, to secure an independent livelihood.
  (5) Having no nationality, or when he or she would lose his or her nationality in consequence of the acquisition of Japanese nationality.

第八条
外国人ノ妻ハ其夫ト共ニスルニ非サレハ帰化ヲ為スコトヲ得ス

Article 8
The wife of an alien, if not together with her husband, shall not be able to effect naturalization.

Article 8
The wife of an alien cannot become naturalized, except in conjunction with her husband.

第九条
左ニ掲ケタル外国人力現ニ日本ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ第七条第二項第一号ノ条件ヲ具備セサルトキト雖モ帰化ヲ為スコトヲ得

  一 父又ハ母ノ日本人タリシ者
  二 妻ノ日本人タリシ者
  三 日本ニ於テ生マレタル者
  四 引続キ十年以上日本ニ居所ヲ有スル者

前項第一号乃至第三号ニ掲ケタル者ハ引続キ三年以上日本ニ居所ヲ有スルニ非サレハ帰化ヲ為スコトヲ得ス但第三号ニ掲ケタル者ノ父又ハ母カ日本ニ於テ生マレタル者ナルトキハ此限ニ在ラス

Article 9

  1.
  2.
  3.
  4.

Article 9
The aliens mentioned below, if they are actually in possession of a domicile in Japan, may become naturalized, although they may not have satisfied condition number 1 of paragraph 2 of Article 7:

  (1) Those whose fathers or mothers were Japanese.
  (2) Those whose wives were Japanese.
  (3) Those born in Japan.
  (4) Those who have had places of residence in Japan for ten years or more, consequtively.

The persons mentioned in numbers 1 to 3, inclusive, of the preceding paragraph, cannot become naturalized unless they have possessed places of residence in Japan for three years or more, consecutively; but if the father, or the mother, of a person mentioned in number 3 was born in Japan, this rule does not apply.

第十条
外国人ノ父又ハ母カ日本人ナル場合ニ於テ其外国人力現ニ日本ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ第七条第二項第一号、第二号及ヒ第四号ノ条件ヲ具備セサルトキト雖モ帰化ヲ為スコトヲ得

Article 10

Article 10
In cases where the father, or the mother, of an alien is a Japanese, if the alien in question is in actual possession of a domicile in Japan, he or she may become naturalized, although he or she may not have satisfied the conditions mentioned in numbers 1, 2, and 4 of paragraph 2 of Article 7.

策十一条
日本ニ特別ノ功労アル外国人ハ第七条第二項ノ規定ニ拘ハラス内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁勅裁ヲ経テ其帰化ヲ許可スルコトヲ得

Article 11

Article 11
Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 2 of Article 7, the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General may, subject to the imperial sanction, permit the naturalization of an alien who has rendered specially meritorious services to Japan.

策十二条
帰化ハ之ヲ官報ニ告示スルコトヲ要ス

帰化ハ其告示アリタル後ニ非サレハ之ヲ以テ善意ノ第三者ニ対抗スルコトヲ得ス

Article 12

Article 12
Naturalization must be notified in the "Official Gazette."

Naturalization cannot be set up against a third party who has acted in good faith, until after such notification has taken place.

第十三条
日本ノ国籍ヲ取得スル者ノ妻ハ夫ト共ニ日本ノ国籍ヲ取得ス

前項ノ規定ハ妻ノ本国法ニ反対ノ規定アルトキハ之ヲ適用セス

Article 13
The wife of one who acquires the nationality of Japan shall acquire the nationality of Japan with the husband.

As for the provision of the preceding paragraph, [one] shall not apply it when there is a contrary provision in the law of the wife's home country.

Article 13
The wife of a person who acquires Japanese nationality acquires Japanese nationality in conjunction with her husband.

The provisions of the preceding paragraph do not apply when the law of the wife's country contains provisions which are contrary thereto.

第十四条
日本ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル者ノ妻カ前条ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ取得セサリシトキハ第七条第二項二掲ケタル条件ヲ具備セサルトキト雖モ帰化ヲ為スコトヲ得

Article 14

Article 14
If the wife of a person who has acquired Japanese nationality has not acquired Japanese nationality in accordance with the provisions of the preceding article, she may become naturalized although she may not have fulfilled the conditions of paragraph 2 of Article 7.

策十五条
日本ノ国籍ヲ取得スル者ノ子力其本国法ニ依リテ未成年者ナルトキハ父又ハ母ト共ニ日本ノ国籍ヲ取得ス

前項ノ規定ハ子ノ本国法ニ反対ノ規定アルトキハ之ヲ適用セス

Article 15

Article 15
The child of a person who acquires Japanese nationality acquires Japanese nationality in conjunction with its father or its mother, if it is a minor according to the law of its own country.

The provisions of the preceding paragraph do not apply when the law of the child's country contains provisions which are contrary thereto.

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Restrictions attached to acquired Japanese nationality

acquired

This characterization of Articles 16 and 17 of the 1899 Nationality Law, based on De Becker 1909/1910 as cited in Bowles 1915, reflects the terminology in the 1899 Nationality Law, which used "acquisition" (取得 shutoku) only in references to Japanese nationality obtained through marriage, adoption, or naturalization, and in reference to foreign nationalities obtained by Japanese.

Note that the 1950 Nationality Law defines all means of obtaining the nationality of Japan, or of another country, as "acquisition" (取得 shutoku).

Note also that the following restrictions on nationality, acquired other than through birth, ended when the 1950 Nationality Law came into force. There are now no distinctions between nationals as to when or how they obtained their nationality.

Japanese text and structural translation
(1899 law with 1916, 1924, 1947 revisions)
Received translation
(1899 law as of 1924)

第十六条
帰化人、帰化人ノ子ニシテ日本ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル者及ヒ日本人ノ養子又ハ入夫ト為リタル者ハ左ニ掲ケタル権利ヲ有セス

  一 国務大臣ト為ルコト
  ニ 枢密院ノ議長、副議長又ハ顧問官ト為ルコト
  三 宮内勅任官ト為ルコト
  四 特名全権公使ト為ルコト
  五 陸海軍ノ将官ト為ルコト
  六 大審院長、会計検査院長又ハ行政裁判所長官ト為ルコト
  七 帝国議会ノ議員ト為ルコト

Article 16
A naturalized person, one who is the child of a naturalized person and possesses the nationality of Japan, and one who has become an adopted child or the entering husband of a Japanese person, shall not possess the rights listed to the left [below].

  1.
  2.
  3.
  4.
  5.
  6.
  7.

Article 16
A naturalized person, a person who, being the child of a naturalized person, has acquired Japanese nationality, or a person who has been adopted by, or has become the nyufu of a Japanese, does not possess the following rights:

  (1) The right to become a Minister of State.
  (2) The right to become the President or the Vice President or a member of the Privy Council.
  (3) The right to become an official of chokunin rank in the Imperial Household.
  (4) The right to become an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary.
  (5) The right to become a General Officer in the army or an Officer of flag rank in the navy.
  (6) The right to become President of the Supreme Court, President of the Board of Audit, or President of the Court of Administrative Jurisdiction.
  (7) The right to become a member of the Imperial Diet.

第十七条
前条ニ定メタル制限ハ第十一条ノ規定ニ依リテ帰化ヲ許可シタル者ニ付テハ国籍取得ノ時ヨリ五年ノ後其他ノ者ニ付テハ十年ノ後内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁勅裁ヲ経テ之ヲ解除スルコトヲ得

Article 17

Article 17
The restrictions laid down in the preceding article may in the case of a person who has become naturalized in accordance with the provisions of Article 11, after five years have elapsed from the date of his acquiring Japanese nationality, and in the case of other persons after ten years have elapsed, be removed by the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General, subject to the imperial sanction.

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How Japanese nationality may be lost, retained, renounced
Japanese text and structural translation
(1899 law with 1916, 1924, 1947 revisions)
Received translation
(1899 law as of 1924)

第十八条
日本ノ女カ外国人ト婚姻ヲ為シタルトキハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ

日本人カ外国人ノ妻ト為リ夫ノ国籍ヲ取得シタルトキハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ

Article 18
When a woman of Japan has effected a marriage with an alien she will lose the nationality of Japan.

When a Japanese [Nihonjin] has become the wife of an alien and has gained the husband's nationality she will lose the nationality of Japan.

Article 18
A Japanese who, on becoming the wife of an alien, has acquired her husband's nationality, loses Japanese nationality.

第十九条
婚姻又ハ養子縁組ニ因リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル者ハ離婚又ハ離縁ノ場合ニ於テ其外国ノ国籍ヲ有スヘキトキニ限リ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ

Article 19
A person who has acquired the nationality of Japan through a marriage [kon'in] or an adopted-son alliance [yoshi engumi] will lose the nationality of Japan only when [the person] is to possess the nationality of the other country [of which they were formerly a national] in case of divorce [rikon] or dissolution [rien].

Article 19
A person who has acquired Japanese nationality by marriage, or by adoption, loses Japanese nationality by divorce or the dissociation of adoption only when he or she thereby recovers his or her foreign nationality.

第二十条
自己ノ志望ニ依リテ外国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル者ハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ

Article 20
A person who has acquired the nationality of another country through one's own volition will lose the nationality of Japan.

Article 20
A person who acquires foreign nationality voluntarily loses Japanese nationality.

第二十条ノ二  外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人カ其国ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為スコトヲ得

前項ノ許可ノ申請ハ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為ス者カ十五年未満ナルトキハ法定代理人ヨリ之ヲ為シ満十五年以上ノ未成年者又ハ禁治産者ナルトキハ法定代理人ノ同意ヲ得テ之ヲ為スコトヲ要ス

継父、継母、嫡母又ハ後見人カ前項ノ申請又ハ同意ヲ為スニハ親族会ノ同意ヲ得ルコトヲ要ス

国籍ノ離脱ヲ為シタル者ハ国籍ヲ失フ


第二十条ノ二  勅令ヲ以テ指定スル外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人ハ命令ノ定ムル所ニ依リ日本ノ国籍ヲ留保スルノ意思ヲ表示スルニ非サレハ其出生ノ時ニ遡リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ

前項ノ規定ニ依リ日本ノ国籍ヲ留保シタル者又ハ前項ノ規定ニ依ル指定前其指定セラレタル外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人当該外国ノ国籍ヲ有シ且其国ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ其志望ニ依リ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為スコトヲ得

前項ノ規定ニ依リ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為シタル者ハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ

Article 20-2  A Japanese [Nihonjin] who by virtue of having been born in a foreign country has gained the nationality of that country, if possessing a domicile in that country, shall be able to effect a renunciation of the nationality of Japan having obtained the permission of the Minister of Interior.

As for the application for permission of the preceding paragraph, when a person who would effect a renunciation of the nationality of Japan is not yet fully fifteen years of age, [the person] will effect this through a legal representative, and when [the person] is a minor fully fifteen years old or above or is an incompetent person [the person] will be required to effect this obtaining the consent of a legal representative.

When a stepfather, stepmother, legitimate mother, or guardian effects the application or permission in the preceding paragraph, [they] will be required to obtain the consent of a family council.

A person who has effected a renunciation of [the] nationality [of Japan] shall lose [the] nationality [of Japan].


Article 20-2  As for Japanese who by reason of having been born in a foreign country designated by imperial ordinance have acquired the nationality of that country, should there be no expression of intent to retain the nationality of Japan as they shall lose the nationality of Japan retroactive to the time of their birth according to the determinations of decrees.

Those who retain the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provision of the preceding paragraph, and when a Japanese who by reason of having been born before the designation according to the provision of the preceding paragraph has acquired the nationality of that country possess the nationality of the said country and possesses a domicile in the country shall be able to effect a renunciation of the nationality of Japan in accordance with their wish.

Those who have effected a renunciation of nationality in accordance with the provision of the preceding paragraph shall lose the nationality of Japan.

Section 2 of Article 20.  A Japanese who, by reason of having been born in a foreign country designated by Imperial Ordinance, [Note 1] has acquired the nationality of that country, and who does not as laid down by order express his intention of retaining Japanese nationality, loses his Japanese nationality retroactively from his birth.

Persons who have retained Japanese nationality in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph, or Japanese subjects who, by reason of having been born in a designated foreign country before its designation in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph, have acquired the nationality of that country, may, when they are in possession of the nationality of the country concerned and in possession of a domicile in that country, renounce Japanese nationality if they desire to do so.

Persons who shall have renounced their nationality in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph lose Japanese nationality.

Note 1  Imperial Ordinance No. 262 of November 15, 1924, designates the following countries as coming within the meaning of this paragraph: (1) United States of America: (2) Argentina; (3) Brazil; (4) Canada; (5) Chile; (6) Peru.

Countries in which children
born to Japanese in the country
must retain (reserve) or else lose
their birthright nationality

Imperial Ordinance No. 262 was sanctioned on 15 November, promulgated in the Official Gazette on 17 November, and came into force from 1 December 1924 with the revisions of Law 19 (Tashiro 1974: 837). Imperial Ordinance 16 of 1926 added Mexico to the list (Hosokawa 1990: 185)

Note that the 1924 retention provision in the 1899 law has been generalized in the present 1950 law. The present law provides that a Japanese parent must retain the Japanese nationality of any child born in any country in which the child would also acquire that country's nationality through place-of-birth.

第二十条ノ三  前条第一項ノ外国以外ノ外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人カ其国ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為スコトヲ得

前条第三項ノ規定ハ前項ノ規定ニ依リ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為シタル者ニ之ヲ準用ス

Article 20-3  When a Japanese who by reason of having been born in a foreign country other than a foreign country of paragraph one of the preceding article has acquired the nationality of that country possesses a domicile in that country, the [Japanese] shall be able to effect a renunciation of the nationality of Japan by obtaining the permission of the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General.

As for the provision of paragraph three of the preceding article, this shall apply mutatis mutandis to those who have effected a renunciation of nationality in accordance with the provision of the preceding paragraph [of this article].

Section 3 of Article 20.  Japanese subjects who, by reason of having been born in a foreign country other than the foreign countries indicated in paragraph 1 of the preceding article, have acquired the nationality of that country, may, when they possess a domicile in that country, effect renunciation of Japanese nationality by obtaining the sanction of the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General.

第二十一条
日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者ノ妻及ヒ子力其者ノ国籍ヲ取得シタルトキハ日本ノ国籍ヲ夫フ

Article 21
When the wife and the children of a person who has lost the nationality of Japan acquires that person's [new] nationality, [they] will lose the nationality of Japan.

Article 21
If the wife and child of a person who loses Japanese nationality acquire the said person's new nationality, they lose Japanese nationality.

第二十二条
前条ノ規定ハ離婚又ハ離縁ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者ノ妻及ヒ子ニハ之ヲ適用セス但妻カ夫ノ離縁ノ場合ニ於テ離婚ヲ為サス又ハ子力父ニ随ヒテ其家ヲ去リタルトキバ此限ニ在ラス

Article 22
The provisions of the preceding article do not apply to the wife or children of a person who has lost the nationality of Japan through divorce [rikon] or dissolution [rien]. However, when the wife does not effect [i.e., cause] a divorce in the event of the dissolution of the husband [adoption] or the children leave the family with the father, [this provision] will not apply. [ == Provided, however, that this will not apply when the wife in the event of the husband's dissolution does not effect a divorce or the children leave the family with the father.]

Article 22
The provisions of the preceding article do not apply to the wife and child of a person who loses Japanese nationality by divorce, or by the dissolution of adoption. But cases in which the wife is not divorced when the dissolution of the husband's adoption takes place, or in which the child leaves the family together with the father, do not come under this rule.

第二十三条
日本人タル子力認知ニ因リテ外国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタルトキハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ但日本人ノ妻、入夫又ハ養子ト為リタル者ハ此限ニ在ラス

Article 23
When a child who is Japanese has acquired the nationality of a foreign country on account of recognition [the child] will lose the nationality of Japan. However, as for one [such a person] who has become the wife, the incoming husband, or an adopted child of a Japanese this will not apply. [ == Provided, however, that this will not apply when one [such a person] has become the wife, incoming husband, or an adopted child of a Japanese.]

Article 23
If a child who is a Japanese acquires foreign nationality by acknowledgment, he or she loses Japanese nationality. But his rule does not apply to a person who has become the wife, the nyufu, or the adopted child of a Japanese.

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Limitations as to freedom of Japanese in gaining a foreign nationality
Japanese text and structural translation
(1899 law with 1916, 1924, 1947 revisions)
Received translation
(1899 law as of 1924)

第二十四条
満十七年以上ノ男子ハ前五条前六条第十九条、第二十条及前三条ノ規定ニ拘ハラス既ニ陸海軍ノ現役ニ服シタルトキ又ハ之ニ服スル義務ナキトキニ非サレハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ハス

現ニ文武ノ官職ヲ帯フル者ハ前六条前七条前八条ノ規定ニ拘ハラス其官職ヲ失ヒタル後ニ非サレハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ハス

Article 24
A male of fully 17 years of age or above, notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding five articles the preceding six articles Article 19, Article 20, and preceding three articles, shall not lose the nationality of Japan if not at a time he has already fulfilled active service in the Army or Navy or at a time he does not have the duty to fulfill this [service].

A person who presently occupies a civil or military government post, notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding six articles the preceding seven articles the preceding eight articles, shall not lose the nationality of Japan if not after having lost the government post.

Article 24
Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 19, Article 20, and the preceding three articles, a male of full seventeen years of age or upwards does not lose Japanese nationality, unless he has completed active service in the army or navy, or unless he is under no obligation to serve.

A person who actually occupies an official post, civil or military, does not lose Japanese nationality notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding eight articles until after he or she has lost such official post.

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Regaining of lost nationality
Japanese text and structural translation
(1899 law with 1916, 1924, 1947 revisions)
Received translation
(1899 law as of 1924)

第二十五条
婚姻ニ因リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ婚姻解消ノ後日本ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ヲ回復スルコトヲ得

Article 25
When one who has lost the nationality of Japan due to marriage possesses a domicile in Japan after the dissolution of the marriage, [the person] may, obtaining the permission of the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General, recover the nationality of Japan.

Article 25
A person who has lost Japanese nationality by marriage and who is domiciled in Japan after the dissolution of the marriage, may, with the permission of the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General, recover Japanese nationality.

第二十六条
第二十条、第二十条ノ二又ハ第二十一条 第二十条及至第二十一条ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ日本ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ヲ回復スルコトヲ得但第十六条ニ掲ケタル者カ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル場合ハ此限ニ在ラス

前項ノ許可ノ申請ハ第二十条ノ二ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ十五年未満ナルトキハ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ノ際其ノ者ノ属セシ家ニ在ル父、父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ母、母之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖父、祖父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖母ヨリ之ヲ為スコトヲ要ス

Article 26
When a person who has lost the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provisions of Article 20, Article 20-2, or Article 21 Article 20 through Article 21 possesses a domicile in Japan, [the person] shall be able to regain the nationality of Japan having received the permission of the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General. However, in the event a person has held up to Article 16, [this provision] will not apply. [ == Provided, however, that this will not apply in the event a person has complied with Article 16].

As for the application for permission of the preceding paragraph, when a person who has lost the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provisions of Article 20-2 is not yet fully fifteen years of age, at the time of renunciation of the nationality of Japan, it shall be necessary to effect this through the father in the family affiliated with the person, or when the father cannot do this the mother, or when the mother cannot do this a grandfather, or when a grandfather cannot do this a grandmother.

Article 26
If a person who has lost Japanese nationality in accordance with the provisions of Article 20 to 21 inclusive is domiciled in Japan, he or she may, with the permission of the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General, recover Japanese nationality. But this rule does not apply to cases in which the persons mentioned in Article 16 have lost Japanese nationality.

第二十七条
第十三条乃至第十五条ノ規定ハ前二条ノ場合ニ之ヲ準用ス

第二十七条ノ二  国籍ノ離脱及回復ニ関スル手続ハ命令ヲ以テ之ヲ定ム

Article 27
The provisions of Article 13 through Article 15 will apply in the event of the preceding two articles.

Article 27-2  As for applications concerning renunciation and restoration of nationality, [these] shall be determined by decrees.

Article 27
The provisions of Articles 13 to 15 inclusive apply mutatis mutandis to cases coming under the preceding two articles.

Section 2 or Article 27  The procedure relative to the renunciation and recover of nationality shall be determined by Order.

附則 Supplementary provisions
第二十八条
本法ハ明治三十二年四月一目ヨリ之ヲ施行ス
Article 28
This law shall be enforced from 1 April 1899.
Article 28
[ Not in received translations. ]

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1899 Law No. 94

Concerning rights of those who have lost nationality

A number of laws, ordinances and regulations were passed to facilitate the enforcement of the Nationality Law, or to deal with its effects. The following law dealt with the effect of losing nationality -- namely, the disposition of "rights" that a family would no longer be able to exercise because its members were no longer Japanese.

1899 Law No. 94
Rights of family losing Japanese nationality go to state after one year

Japanese text

The following Japanese text is based on a copy downloaded from Nakano Bunko (retrieved August 2007). For some reason this law was not included in the appendix of Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974 -- although it is referred in in Imperial Ordinance (勅令 chokurei) No. 88 of 1924, which extended the Nationality Law, and four other laws including this law, to Karafuto (Tashiro 1974: 851).

English translations

The structural translation is mine (William Wetherall).

The received translation is from Richard W. Flournoy, Jr., and Manley O. Hudson, A Collection of Nationality Laws of Various Countries as Contained in Constitutions, Statutes and Treaties, New York] Oxford University Press, 1929, page 386. The source attribution is "Text from enclosure with Despatch No. 1279, September 12, 1929, from the American Chargé d'Affaires at Tokyo to the Secretary of State."

国籍喪失者ノ権利ニ関スル法律
Law concerning the rights of those who have lost nationality
Law concerning the rights of persons who have lost Japanese nationality
Japanese Structural Received
法律第九十四号

明治三十二年三月二十九日に公布
Law No. 94

Promulgated Meiji 32-3-29 [29 March 1899]
Law No. 94, of March 29, 1899

日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル家族カ日本人ニ非サレハ享有スルコトヲ得サル権利ヲ有スル場合ニ於テ一年内ニ之ヲ日本人ニ譲渡セサルトキハ其権利ハ国庫ニ帰属ス

In the event that a family which has lost the nationality of Japan possesses rights [claims, privileges] it is unable to enjoy if [its members are] not Japanese [Nihonjin], when [it] does not transfer these to a Japanese [Nihonjin] within one year, these rights shall belong [revert] to the national treasury.

In case a member of a house who has lost Japanese nationality possesses property rights which cannot be enjoyed except by a Japanese, such rights vest in the National Treasury, unless they are assigned to a Japanese within one year.

Comment on received translation

The received translation reduces a general statement about both collective family and individual member rights, to one about individual member rights.

The Japanese text states "family" because Japan's 1899 Nationality Law followed the then widely embraced principle of one nationality per family. If a man changed his nationality, his wife and minor children changed their nationality to conform with his.

The members of such a family in a Japanese register would have lost their Japanese nationality, in unison, had the father naturalized in another country, therefore losing his Japanese nationality. The nationality law of the other country would most likely have provided that the man's spouse and minor children would naturalize with him, in compliance with its practice of the one-nationality-per-family principle, hence they too would have lost their Japanese nationality.

Moreover, under Japanese law, married parents and minor children would have been in a single family register that defined a corporate family. Some rights of individuals in a family were constrained by the rights of the family as a corporate entity. The male head of household would generally have had the legal authority to transfer ownership of family property. In the case of property involving an extended family, a "family council" might have been convened to decide complex family matters.

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1899 Ministry of Home Affairs Ordinance No. 51

This ordinance established (1) procedures for Japanese who wish to make an alien either an adopted son [yoshi] or an incoming husband [nyufu], and (2) procedures for foreigners who wish to naturalize or restore a lost Japanese nationality.

1899 Ministry of Home Affairs Ordinance No. 51
Adopted sons, incoming husbands, naturalization, restoration of nationality

Japanese text

The following Japanese text began as a copy download from the website of Nagoya Univeristy professor Asakawa Akihiro (retrieved April 2006). The script had been corrupted by the sort of errors made by opitical mark readers after scanning. The downloaded copy was corrected and edited while consulting relevant parts of a copy in the appendix of Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974, page 830.

English translation

The translation is mine (William Wetherall).

明治三十二年内
務省令第五十一號


外国人ヲ養子又ハ入夫ト為サントスル者及帰化ヲ為シ又ハ国籍ヲ回復セントスル者出願方ノ件
Meiji 32 [1899]
Ministry of Home Affairs Ordinance No. 51


Regarding applications of persons who would make an alien an adopted son [yoshi] or an incoming husband [nyufu] and of persons who would effect naturalization or restore [Japanese] nationality
明治三十一年法律第二十一號ニ依リ外国人ヲ養子又ハ入夫ト為サントスル者ハ本籍地又ハ寄留地地方廳ヲ経由シテ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ニ願出ソヘシ

本年法律第六十六號ニ依リ歸化ヲ為シ又ハ国籍ヲ囘復セントスル者ハ其ノ住所ノ地方廳ヲ経由ツテ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ニ願出ツヘシ
Persons who would make an alien an adopted son [yoshi] or an incoming husband [nyufu] in accordance with Law No. 21 of 1898 shall apply to the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General through the local office [chiho cho] in their place of principal register [honseki chi] or place of temporary residence [kiryu chi].

Persons who would effect naturalization [kika o nasu] or restore [Japanese] nationality [kokuseki o kaifuku suru] in accordance with Law No. 66 of this year shall apply to the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General through the local office of their residence [jusho].
明治三十二年九月十四日
内務大臣侯爵西郷從道
Meiji 32-9-14 [14 September 1899]
Minister of Home Affairs Marquis Saigo Tsugumichi

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1915 pamphlet on "Japanese Law of Nationality"

"No racial or national discrimination" in Japanese law

Presented here is a complete reproduction of a six-page pamphlet that changed my thinking and some ways my life. First, though, the story of its discovery, why it proved to be important for me personally as well as to my understanding of how laws in the United States racially discriminated against immigrants because of their race or national origin, and profiles of Gilbert Bowles and J. E. De Becker.

Discovery of pamphlet

I discovered the following pamphlet one day between the fall of 1972 and the spring of 1975, in the stacks of the Doe Library of the University of California at Berkeley.

Bowles, Gilbert
Japanese Law of Nationality
Tokyo: Gilbert Bowles, 15 May 1915
6 page pamphlet in softcover

I cannot remember what else I was doing at the time, but I it was one of several volumes I checked out and lugged over to Cleo's on Telegraph to copy on the cheapest self-service machines near the campus.

The copy is now a bit faded but still readable. I wrote the call number in the upper-left corner of the first page of the copy in red ballpoint, and the character 全 in the upper-right corner to indicate that the copy was complete. No, I didn't wear geta.

JQ
1686
A3
1915

The copy is well marked with the red wax pencil I used at the time -- even in my own books, heaven forbid -- to highlight points of interest or doubt.

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Personal importance of pamphlet

It was this small pamphlet that started me thinking that most of what I had been led to believe at the time about citizenship, nationality, and race was not true.

I knew nothing at the time about "nationality" as a matter of law. I knew I was a "citizen" of the United States, and I figured others were "citizens" of their respective country. It was my impression that "nationality" had something to do with race or ethnicity -- as the expression "national origins" generally implied in the United States.

I also assumed -- because so many others, including my professors, seemed to insinuate -- that being "Japanese" had something to do with race or ethnicity. So I figured that "nationality" in Japan also had something to do with "blood" in the racial sense of this word.

But in the stacks of Doe that day -- on the very last page of the this pamphlet -- I read the following statement.

NO RACIAL OR NATIONAL DISCRIMINATION.

In a personal letter to the compiler of this article Mr. J. E. De Becker writes: "No line is drawn at either nationality or race. The only question considered is -- is the applicant likely to make a desirable citizen. If the man himself is all right, then his nationality, or race cuts no figure whatsoever in the matter, and this, I think, is as it should be."

I had no idea what to make of this remark. Nor did I quite understand the significance of another remark, that certain "aliens" who had been "naturalized by adoption" were considered "native-born" under Japan's Nationality Law.

These two observations had been written six decades before I read them, and both flew in the face of the "conventional wisdom" I was passively acquiring in graduate school. So I copied the pamphlet and began looking for explanations.

It is not that I suddenly devoted my life to the understanding of this pamphlet. It was just there, in my files, and now and then I would review it, and wonder anew at what it all meant.

Its personal significance only became apparent in 1978 when my daughter was born and she became the plaintiff in a law suit seeking to confirm that she should be Japanese. And again when my son was born in 1982 and he became a plaintiff in a similar lawsuit.

Only then did I fully understand that Japan's Nationality Law, though revised in 1950, had all along been free of racial and national discrimination.

Most people then -- from journalists to activists -- didn't believe me. Many people still don't believe that being Japanese has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

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Historical importance of pamphlet

If it a few years for me to feel the implications of the pamphlet in my personal and family life, it took a few more for me to fully appreciate its historical setting and significance.

Only when I plunged into the history of Japanese emigration to the United States and the response of particularly California and Washington, D.C. to the presence of an increasing number of Americans of Japanese descent in the state and country did I start to fathom the pamphlet's contemporary importance. And only when I placed the pamphlet in the sequence of legal developments in both the United States and Japan, in response to the "Japanese Problem" in America, did I realize why Bowles went to the trouble to produce and distribute the pamphlet.

Bowles compiled the pamphlet at a time when laws were being passed in California and elsewhere in the United States prohibiting aliens "ineligible to citizenship" from owning land, and when Japan was making "gentleman's agreements" concerning its issuance of passports to Japanese who might be thinking of settling in the United States, particularly in California, which in 1913 had passed its then controversial and now notorious "Alien Land Law".

It was also a time when the United States was pressuring Japan to permit its nationals to renounce their nationality, in order to reduce the number of US citizens who were also nationals of Japan -- having been born in the United States to Japanese immigrants. Their immigrant parents were not able to naturalize because of their race -- no, not because of their race, but because America's "citizenship" laws were racist.

Some Americans who knew Japan -- who were living or had lived in Japan -- were siding with Japanese who took offense at being racially barred in the United States -- not only from becoming citizens but, in some states from owning land or from marrying "whites".

The importance of this little pamphlet was that it was written as a vehicle for the message that, unlike laws in the United States, laws in Japan did not discriminate because of nationality or race. An alien's putative race or nationality was not, in Japan, a barrier to becoming Japanese.

The pamphlet which I copied was gifted to the UC Berkeley Library on 16 September 1915, the year it was published in Tokyo. Apparently it was privately published and distributed by the compiler, Gilbert Bowles, who was living in Tokyo at the time.

Bowles also compiled and distributed a similar pamphlet called "Land Tenure by Foreigners in Japan", as reprinted from the November 1914 issue of "The Japan Peace Movement". This seems to have been a Quaker publication, as Bowles was a Quaker missionary in Japan, and he was active in the peace movement that followed the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905.

Someone -- possibly Bowles himself -- gifted the pamphlet I copied to the University of California library, if that is what the stamp on the cover means. In other words, it appears that Bowles not only published the pamphlet but distributed it to places where he hoped it might influence people whose opinion mattered.

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Gilbert Bowles

Gilbert Bowles (1869-1960) was an American. He served in the Friends Foreign Mission in Japan from 1901 to 1941. Apparently he is buried in the foreign section of the Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo, though I have not dug into this question. His wife, Minnie P. Bowles, is said to have served in the same mission between 1893 and 1941.

This aside has nothing to do with Japan's Nationality Law. Rather it is about one individual who was sufficiently interested in Japan's Nationality Law in 1915 to publish a pamphlet and go to the trouble to cite De Becker's statement about there being no racial or national discrimination in the law.

Today Bowles would be regarded a publicist for human rights. Like many missionaries who knew Japan, he appears to have advocated an end to discrimination against Japanese immigrants in the United States, who were not allowed to naturalize because they were neither "white" nor of "African nativity" or "African descent". Their "ineligibility to citizenship" because of their putative "race" was legally specified in the guise of the racialist term "national origin".

I believe one of the reasons Bowles published this pamphlet was to show that Japan's Nationality Law -- unlike America's laws -- did not codify "racial or national discrimination". While this was clear from the law itself, Bowles stressed this point in his comments at the end of the pamphlet by citing De Becker, not only an authority on Japanese law, but an example of someone who had become a Japanese national through marriage -- something unimaginable in the United States.

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Kobayashi Beika aka J. E. De Becker

Bowles failed to point out the fact -- perhaps because he thought most informed readers at the time would have known -- that J. E. De Becker was a living example of the absolute neutrality in Japanese law regarding the race or nationality of aliens who wanted to become Japanese.

Joseph Ernest De Becker (1863-1929), born in London and educated in the United States, had come to Japan in 1887 and become Japanese on 29 July 1891 as the incoming husband (入夫 nyūfu) of Kobayashi Ei (小林エイ), a Kanagawa commoner. As a Japanese he was known as Kobayashi Beika (小林米珂) (Koyama 1995:268)

De Becker, an attorney, was the first person to translate Japan's basic laws into English. Today, though, he is better known as the author of The Nightless City (Or the "History of the Yoshiwara Yukwaku History of the Yoshiwara Yukwaku"), Yokohama: Z.P. Maruya & Co. Ltd., 1899.

The first edition of Nightless City -- called 不夜城 (Fuyajō) in Japanese -- was attributed only an to "An English Student of Sociology ******". The colophon, though, says it was published on 30 June 1899 by 小林米珂 (Kobayashi Beika) of 奈川縣久良岐郡中村千五百四十九番地 (Kanagawa-ken Kuraki-gun Nakamura 1549-banchi).

The address is that of Kobayashi and his wife -- originally hers, then also his as a result of their marriage. Before the marriage, he had been a resident -- as required by extraterritorial laws at the time -- of the Yokohama Settlement (横浜居留地 Yokohama Kyoryūchi), a treaty concession for foreigners.

In April 1890, the year before he became Kobayashi, De Becker sent a query to the prime minister asking if it was possible "to change his allegiance to Japanese nationality" (日本国籍に帰化する Nihon kokuseki ni kika suru). The reply, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was to the effect that there were no examples of a foreigner being permitted "to change allegiance to Japan" (日本への帰化 Nihon e no kika) other than through adoption as a son-in-law (婿養子 muko yōshi) or an incoming husband (入夫 nyūfu).

The above anecdote comes from Koyama (1995:115). He does not, however, directly cite De Becker's query or the government response. Hence the language used in the exchange cannot be confirmed.

De Becker went on to translate many Japanese laws, including the 1899 Nationality Law, as noted in the pamphlet.

Without further ado, Bowles's 1915 pamphlet.

"Japanese Law of Nationality" by Gilbert Bowles, 1915
In praise of racial and nationality equality in Japan's Nationality Law

[Front cover]

[Stamp]

   GIFT
SEP 16 1915

JAPANESE LAW
OF
NATIONALITY


COMPILED BY
GILBERT BOWLES

TOKYO
1915

[Inside front Cover]

Copies of "The Japanese Law of Nationality", also copies of a uniform pamphlet, "Land Tenure by Foreigners in Japan", a reprint from the November (1814) number of The Japan Peace Movement, may be obtained from Gilbert Bowles, 30 Koun Cho, Mita, Tokyo.

[Page 1]

JAPANESE LAW
OF
NATIONALITY

Compiled by Gilbert Bowles.


Introductory.  This summary of the Japanese Law of Nationality was published in the English Department of the April (1915) number of The Japan Peace Movement, organ of the Japan Peace Society and the American Peace Society of Japan.

During the past year questions concerning the Japanese Law of Nationality have become frequent. This has naturally arisen with more serious consideration of the naturalization of Japanese resident in America. In personal interviews and conferences it has been difficult to obtain accurate information concerning Japanese laws governing the losing of nationality by Japanese subjects and the acquiring of Japanese nationality by foreigners. The response given to the publication, in the November (1914) number of The Japan Peace Movement, of a summary of Japanese law concerning "Land Tenure by Foreigners in Japan" has encouraged the compilation of a similar summary of the Japanese "Law of Nationality."

The object in endeavorning to present such facts, whether concerning land tenure or naturalization, is neither defense nor condemnation. Whatever be the Japanese or American laws concerning such important subjects, it is necessary that the facts be known. If the wider publicity of laws concerning land tenure or nationality reveals just causes for anxiety and criticism, intelligent and frank discussion will naturally point toward amendment. It is known that some very influential Japanese believe certain sections of the Japanese "Law of Nationality" should be amended.

The Japanese "Law of Nationality" (Law No. 66), called in Japanese "Kokuseki-Hō," was promulgated on March 16, 1899, and came into force on April 1 of the same year. Extracts are made from this Law of twenty-eight articles, as translated by Mr. J. E. De Becker LL. B., of Yokohama, Legal Adviser to the Yokohama and Tokyo Foreign Board of Trade, and printed in the Appendix of his "Annotated Civil Code of Japan." Mr. De Becker says "You are welcome to make any use you like of it." Headings have been given and a general analysis made,

[Page 2]

with a few notes, for the sake of reference. Only the parts so designated by marks are exact quotations from the Law.

NATIONALITY OF CHILDREN.

Article 1.  "A child is a Japanese if his or her father is a Japanese at the time of his or her birth."

[ Article 2.  Not shown]

Article 3.  "A Child whose father is unknown or possesses no nationality is a Japanese provided that his or her mother is a Japanese."

Article 4.  "A child born in Japan is a Japanese when both his or her father and mother are unknown or possess no nationality."

HOW ALIENS MAY ACQUIRE JAPANESE
NATIONALITY.

Article 5.  "An Alien acquires Japanese nationality in any of the following cases:--
  1. When she becomes the wife of a Japanese;
  2. When he becomes the nyufu (a man married to a female head of a house) of a Japanese;
  3. When he or she is recognized by his or her father or mother who is a Japanese:
  4. When he or she is adopted by a Japanese:
  5. When he or she becomes naturalized."

[Commentary] "Recognition," as used in the article is referred to as follows in a personal note by Mr. T. Miyaoka of the Tokyo Bar, Legal Adviser to the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce: "When an alien has been recognized by the father or mother who is a Japanese as his or her son or daughter." Mr. DeBecker [sic] adds that "recognition must be effected by the observance of certain legal formalities provided for in the Civil Code and ancillary laws."

Article 6.[Summary] This article says that one acquiring Japanese nationality by recognition must be "a minor according to the law of his or her own country" and that, if a woman, she be "not the wife of an alien."

Article 7.  "An alien may become naturalized with the permission of the Minister for Home Affairs.
  The Minister for Home Affairs may not permit naturalization unless the following conditions are fulfilled:--
  1. That he or she has possessed a domicile in Japan for at least five years consecutively;
  2. That he or she is at least full twenty years of age and possesses

[Page 3]

legal capacity according to the law of his or her home country;
  3. That he or she is of good conduct and behaviour;
  4. That he or she is possessed of property or of ability to earn an independent livelihood;
  5. That he or she possesses no nationality or that he or she is to lose his or her nationality as a consequence of acquisition of Japanese nationality."

Article 8.  "The wife of an alien cannot become naturalized except together with her husband."

Article 9.  "Those aliens mentioned below and who are actually domiciled in Japan may become naturalized even when the condition of No. 1 of Paragraph 2 of Art. 7 is not fulfilled:--
  1. Those whose fathers or mothers were Japanese;
  2. Those whose wives were Japanese;
  3. Those born in Japan;
  4. Those who have possessed places of residence in Japan for at least ten years consecutively.
  Those mentioned in Nos. 1-3 of the preceding Paragraph cannot effect naturalization unless they have possessed places of residence in Japan for at least three years consecutively, but this does not apply to those mentioned in No. 3 when their fathers or mothers were born in Japan."

Article 10.  "An alien whose father or mother is a Japanese may, provided that he or she actually possesses a domicile in Japan, become naturalized even when the conditions mentioned in Nos. 1, 2, and 4 of Paragraph 2 of Art. 7 are not fulfilled."

Article 11.  "Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Art. 7, the Ministry for Home Affairs may, subject to Imperial sanction, permit the naturalization of an alien who has rendered specially meritorious services to Japan."

Article 12.  "Naturalization shall be publicly notified in the Official Gazette.
  Naturalization cannot be set up against third persons in good faith until after public notice thereof has been given."

Article 13.  "The wife of an alien who acquires Japanese nationality acquires the same nationality together with her husband.
  The provisions of the preceding paragraph do not apply in case there are provisions to the contrary in the law of the home country of the wife."

[Page 4]

Article 14.  "In case the wife of a person who has acquired Japanese nationality has not acquired Japanese nationality in accordance with the provisions of the preceding Article, she may become naturalized even when the conditions mentioned in Paragraph 2 of Art. 7 are not fulfilled."

Article 15.  "The child of a person who has acquired Japanese nationality acquires Japanese nationality together with his or her father or mother, provided that he or she is a minor according to the law of his or her home country.
  The provisions of the preceding Paragraph do not apply in case there are provisions to the contrary in the law of the home country of the child."

RESTRICTIONS ATTACHING TO ACQUIRED
JAPANESE NATIONALITY.

Article 16.  "Naturalized persons, children of naturalized persons who have acquired Japanese nationality, and persons who have become adopted children or nyufu of Japanese possess none of the rights mentioned below:--
  1. To become a Minister of States;
  2. To become the President or Vice-President or a member of the Privy Council;
  3. To become an official of chokumin (Imperial appointment) rank in the Imperial Household Department;
  4. To become an Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary;
  5. To become a general officer in the Army and Navy;
  6. To become the President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Board of Audit, or the President of the Court of Administrative Litigation;
  7. To be a member of the Imperial Diet."

[Commentary] Concerning the above Article. Mr. J.E. DeBecker [sic] says in his "Annoted [sic] Civil Code of Japan", "These restrictions do not apply to the very few aliens who were naturalized by adoption prior to 1st April, 1899. They, in the contemplation of the law, are native-born."

Article 17.  "The Minister for Home Affairs may, subject to Imperial sanction, remove the restrictions mentioned in the preceding Article after the lapse of five years from the time of acquisition of Japanese nationality in the case of persons whose naturalization has been permit-

[Page 5]

ted according to the provisions of Art. 11, and, after ten years, in the case of other persons."

HOW JAPANESE NATIONALITY MAY BE LOST.

Article 18.  "A Japanese woman who has married an alien loses Japanese nationality."

Article 19.  "A person who has acquired Japanese nationality by virtue of marriage or adoption loses Japanese nationality in case of divorce or dissolution of adoption only when he or she thereby recovers his or her foreign nationality."

Article 20.  "A person who has voluntarily acquired a foreign nationality loses Japanese nationality."

Article 21.  "The wife and child of a person who has lost Japanese nationality loses Japanese nationality when they have acquired that person's nationality."

[Article 22.  Not shown]

[Article 23.] Article 22.  "In case a child who is a Japanese has acquired a foreign nationality by virtue of recognition, he or she loses Japanese nationality; but this does not apply to a person who has become the wife, nyufu, or adopted child of a Japanese."

LIMITATIONS AS TO FREEDOM OF JAPANESE
IN GAINING A FOREIGN NATIONALITY.

[Article 24.] Article 23.  "Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding five Articles, a male of full seventeen years of age or upwards does not lose Japanese nationality unless he has completed active service in the Army or Navy or he is under no obligation to enter into it.
  A person who actually occupies an official post -- civil or military -- does not lose Japanese nationality notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding six Articles until after he or she has lost such official post, [sic]"

REGAINING OF LOST NATIONALITY.

Article 25.  "A person who has lost Japanese nationality by virtue of marriage may, with the permission of the Minister for Home Affairs, recover Japanese nationality provided that such person possesses a domicile in Japan after dissolution of the marriage."

Article 26.  "A Person who has lost Japanese nationality in accordance with Art. 20 or 21 may recover Japanese nationality provided that he or she possesses a domicile in Japan; but this does not apply

[Page 6]

when the persons mentioned in Art. 16 have lost Japanese nationality."

[Article 27.  Not shown]

[Article 28.  Not shown]

SPECIAL LAW CONCERNING ADOPTION
OR BECOMING NYUFU.

According to Law No. 21, July 11, 1898, the Minister for Home Affairs may grant the necessary permission to a Japanese "to adopt an alien or to make him a nyufu" ("man married to the female head of a house") in case the alien of "good conduct or behaviour," has "possessed a domicile or place of residence in Japan for at least one year consecutively."

NO RACIAL OR NATIONAL DISCRIMINATION.

In a personal letter to the coimpiler of this article Mr. J. E. De Becker writes: "No line is drawn at either nationality or race. The only question considered is -- is the applicant likely to make a desirable citizen. If the man himself is all right, then his nationality, or race cuts no figure whatsoever in the matter, and this, I think, is as it should be."

FOREIGNERS WHO HAVE OBTAINED
JAPANESE NATIONALITY.

The Japanese law of Naturalization went into operation in 1899. According to that Law, five years residence in Japan is required before naturalization. The statistics of naturaliztion under this Law date froim 1904 and are as follows:

   Foreigners Who Have Obtained Japanese Nationality,
                      1904 to 1913.

               (From Reports of Home Department)

             Naturalized   Adopted and   Nationality   Total
                             Nyufu        Regained
English            2           7             5          14
American           2           1             7          10
German            --           1             2           3
Chinese          158           7            17         182
French             5          --            --           5
Korean            --           1            --           1
Portugese         --           1            --           1
Total            167          18            31         216

[Inside back cover]

大正四年五月 十 日印刷
大正四年五月十五日發行

発行兼編輯人  キルバート、ボールス
        東京市芝區三田功運町三十番地

印  刷  人    ジェー、エム、ガーデナー
        東京市麹町區土手三番町三十二番地

印  刷  所    株式會社 秀 英 舎
        東京市京橋區西紺屋町二十七番地

[Back cover]

[Bookplate]

GIFT OF

[Blank]

SIGILLVM・VNIVERSITATIS・CALIFORNIENSIS
MDCCCLXVIII
EX LIBRIS

[Seal of the University of California]
[1868]
[from the books of]

[Blank]

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1916 revision of 1899 Nationality Law

The 1916 revision clarified conditions under which a Japanese woman who married an alien would lose her nationality, and provided -- for the first time -- provisions for renunciation.

Pressure from American states

The renunciation measures were introduced in response to pressure from North and South American states, but especially the United States, to permit dual-national offspring of Japanese immigrants to singularize their nationality. Most American states had place-of-birth nationality laws, and some were concerned about dual nationality -- in addition to racial concerns about Japanese immigration.

Dual nationals who were domiciled in the country of their alien nationality could renounce their Japanese nationality with the permission from the Ministry of Justice.

Renunciation by representation

Provisions were also made for the parents or guardians of a dual-national minor to renounce on behalf of the minor. These provisions were dropped with the introduction of the nationality retention system in 1924 (see below).

1916 revision of 1899 Nationality Law (Law No. 27)
Concerning loss and renunciation of nationality

Japanese text

The following Japanese as been constructed from two sources: (1) Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974 (page 834), and (2) the website of the research group of Okuda Yasuhiro (奥田安弘), a law professor at Chuo University Law School (中央大学法科大学院 Chuo Daigaku Hoka Daigakuin). Okuda, a specialist in international law, has also been involved in nationality and family register law issues.

The Tashiro text shows the actually revision law. The Okuda text shows only the results of the revision law. The latter is obviously what most people will want to see. However, I have chosen to show both -- for those who may want to see how the laws were actually revised.

First I cut and pasted the articles affected by the 1916 revision from Okuda's website to this page. I then compared the text of these articles with the text of the actual revision law in Tashiro 1974. Next I added content from Tashiro that was not in Okuda. Finally I formatted the text to facilitate its presentation here, and marked the text to facilitate understanding how the extant law was revised.

English translation

The translation is mine (William Wetherall).

Highlighting

1916 revisions are shown in blue.
1st 1948 revision is shown in red.
2nd 1948 revision is shown in green

朕帝国[議]会ノ協賛ヲ経タル国籍法中改正法律ヲ裁可シ茲ニ之ヲ公布セシム

   御名御璽
     大正五年三月十五日
       内閣総理大臣 伯爵 大隈 重信
       内務大臣 法学博士 一木喜徳郎

法律第二十七号 (官報三月十六日)
I [the emperor] sanction the law of revisions in the Law of Nationality which has passed the approval of the Imperial Diet and herein promugate it.

   Imperial seal [Yoshihito]
     Taisho 5-3-15 [15 March 1916]
       Prime Minister of the Cabinet Count Ookuma Shigenobu
       Minister of Home Affairs LL.D. Ikki Kitokuro

Law No. 27 (Kanpo 16 March)
国籍法中左ノ通改正ス The Law of Nationality is revised as to the left.
第十八条
日本人カ外国人ノ妻ト為リ夫ノ国籍ヲ取得シタルトキハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ
第十八条
日本ノ女日本人カ外国人ト婚姻ヲ為ノ妻ト為リ夫ノ国籍ヲ取得シタルトキハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ
Article 18
When a Japanese [Nihonjin] has become the wife of an alien and has gained the husband's nationality [she] will lose the nationality of Japan.
When a woman of Japan Japanese [Nihonjin] has effected a marriage with an alien become the wife of an alien and has gained the husband's nationality she will lose the nationality of Japan.

第二十条ノ二
外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人カ其国ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為スコトヲ得

前項ノ許可ノ申請ハ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為ス者カ十五年未満ナルトキハ法定代理人ヨリ之ヲ為シ満十五年以上ノ未成年者又ハ禁治産者ナルトキハ法定代理人ノ同意ヲ得テ之ヲ為スコトヲ要ス

継父、継母、嫡母又ハ後見人カ前項ノ申請又ハ同意ヲ為スニハ親族会ノ同意ヲ得ルコヲ要ス

国籍ノ離脱ヲ為シタル者ハ国籍ヲ失フ
Article 20-2
A Japanese [Nihonjin] who by virute of having been born in a foreign country has gained the nationality of that country, if possessing a domicile in that country, shall be able to effect a renunciation of the nationality of Japan having obtained the permission of the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General.

As for the application for permission of the preceding paragraph, when a person who would effect a renunciation of the nationality of Japan is not yet fully fifteen years of age, [the person] will effect this through a legal representative, and when [the person] is a minor fully fifteen years old or above or is an incompetent person [the person] will be required to effect this obtaining the consent of a legal representative.

When a stepfather, stepmother, legitimate mother, or guardian effects the application or permission in the preceding paragraph, [they] will be required to obtain the consent of a family council.

A person who has effected a renunciation of [the] nationality [of Japan] shall lose [the] nationality [of Japan].
第二十四条中「前五条」ヲ「前六条」ニ、「前六条」を「前七条」ニ改ス
第二十四条
満十七年以上ノ男子ハ前五条前六条ノ規定ニ拘ハラス既ニ陸海軍ノ現役ニ服シタルトキ又ハ之ニ服スル義務ナキトキニ非サレハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ハス

現ニ文武ノ官職ヲ帯フル者ハ前六条前七条ノ規定ニ拘ハラス其官職ヲ失ヒタル後ニ非サレハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ハス
In Article 24 change "the preceding five articles" to "the preceding six articles", and "the preceding six articles" to "the preceding seven articles".
Article 24
A male of fully 17 years of age or above, notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding five articles the preceding six articles, shall not lose the nationality of Japan if not at a time he has already fulfilled active service in the Army or Navy or at a time he does not have the duty to fulfill this [service].

A person who presently occupies a civil or military government post, notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding six articles the preceding seven articles, shall not lose the nationality of Japan if not after having lost the government post.
第二十六条中「第二十条」ノ下ニ「第二十条ノ二」ヲ加へ同条ニ左ノ一項ヲ加フ

前項ノ許可ノ申請ハ第二十重条ノ二ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ十五年未満ナルトキハ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ノ際其ノ者ノ属セシ家ニ在ル父、父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ母、母之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖父、祖父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖母ヨリ之ヲ為スコトヲ要ス
第二十六条
第二十条、第二十条ノ二又ハ第二十一条ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ日本ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ヲ回復スルコトヲ得但第十六条ニ掲ケタル者カ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル場合ハ此限ニ在ラス

前項ノ許可ノ申請ハ第二十重条ノ二ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ十五年未満ナルトキハ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ノ際其ノ者ノ属セシ家ニ在ル父、父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ母、母之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖父、祖父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖母ヨリ之ヲ為スコトヲ要ス
In Article 26 under "Article 20" add "Article 20-2" and to the same article add the paragraph to the left.

As for the application for permission of the preceding paragraph, when a person who has lost the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provisions of Article 20-2 is not yet fully fifteen years of age, at the time of renunciation of the nationality of Japan, it shall be necessary to effect this through the father in the family affilated with the person, or when the father cannot do this the mother, or when the mother cannot do this a grandfather, or when a grandfather cannot do this a grandmother.
Article 26
When a person who has lost the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provisions of Article 20, Article 20-2, or Article 21 possesses a domicile in Japan, [the person] shall be able to regain the nationality of Japan having received the permission of the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General. However, in the event a person has held up to Article 16, [this provision] will not apply. [ == Provided, however, that this will not apply in the event a person has complied with Article 16].

As for the application for permission of the preceding paragraph, when a person who has lost the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provisions of Article 20-2 is not yet fully fifteen years of age, at the time of renunciation of the nationality of Japan, it shall be necessary to effect this through the father in the family affilated with the person, or when the father cannot do this the mother, or when the mother cannot do this a grandfather, or when a grandfather cannot do this a grandmother.
附則 Supplementary provisions
本法施行ノ期日ハ勅令ヲ以テ之ヲ定ム The date of the enforcement of this law shall be determined by imperial ordinance.

Terminology

legitimate mother (嫡母 chakubo) was the legal wife of the person's father, who as such had parental authority over the child, whose biological mother might have been a mistress.

family council (親族会 shinzokukai) was a legal process of decision making under contemporary family law. The system, until abolished in 1947, was used to resolve important matters related to specific family members or to the entire family as a corporate entity. A court would convene a conference of the persons involved, the head of household, guardians, relatives, a prosector, and other interested parties and hear their claims.

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1924 revision of 1899 Nationality Law

The main aim of this revision was to establish procedures for Japanese residing in specified American states to file notification of intent to retain nationality for a child born in the country within two weeks of its birth.

The two-week period was the time within which a notification of birth had to be filed under the family registration law.

Specified American states

An imperial ordinance (No. 262 of 1924) specified that the retention provision of Article 20-2(1) in the 1924 revision applied to Japanese residing in the United States (亜米利加合衆国), Argentina (亜爾然丁国), Brazil (伯剌西爾国), Canada (加奈陀), Chile (智利国), and Peru (秘露国). Mexico was added to the list in 1926 by another imperial ordinance (No. 16 of 1926).

Note  Both ordinances are mentioned in Hosokawa 1990 (page 185). The character names for the countries are as shown in the version of Imperial Ordinance No. 262 in Tashiro 1974 (page 837). Tashiro's text shows that the ordinance was sanctioned on 15 November, promulgated in the Official Gazette on 17 November, and came into force from 1 December 1924 with the revisions of Law 19. Tashiro does not show, or mention, Imperial Ordinance No. 16 of 1926. Mexico was probably shown as 墨西哥.

All the designated countries were American states with place-of-birth nationality laws. The 1924 retention-of-nationality measure was made in response to diplomatic pressure -- especially from the United States, which was then in the throes of an anti-alien, anti-Oriental, anti-dual-national tantrum -- to make it more difficult for children born to Japanese parents in the designated countries to become dual nationals through birth. The United States was also concerned with Japanese immigration in Latin American countries.

Changes in renunciation measures

Article 20-2(2) of the 1924 revision also provided that those who retained their nationality according to the revision, and resided in the country of the foreign nationality, could renounce their Japanese nationality in accordance with their wish to do so -- that is, they would not require ministerial persmission to do so.

However, Article 20-3 provided that those in similar circumstances, who had become dual nationals before the 1924 revision, would have to receive the permission of the Ministry of Justice in order to renounce their nationality (as provided for in the 1916 revision). In either case, they would lose their Japanese nationality upon effecting renunciation.

Provisions made in 1916, for parents or guardians of a dual-national minor to renounce on behalf of the minor, were dropped with the introduction of the nationality retention system.

Impact on later nationality laws

The retention measure was retained in the 1950 law. And it became the basis of the declaration of choice provision introduced in the 1985 revision.

Japan did not in the past -- and still does not -- prohibit dual nationality acquired at time of birth. Nor does it actually prohibit dual nationality arising later in life.

1924 revision of 1899 Nationality Law (Law No. 19)
Concerning retention of nationality

Japanese text

The following Japanese as been constructed from two sources: (1) Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974 (pages 834-835), and (2) the website of the research group of Okuda Yasuhiro (奥田安弘), a law professor at Chuo University Law School (中央大学法科大学院 Chuo Daigaku Hoka Daigakuin). Okuda, a specialist in international law, has also been involved in nationality and family register law issues.

The Tashiro text shows the actually revision law. The Okuda text shows only the results of the revision law. The latter is obviously what most people will want to see. However, I have chosen to show both -- for those who may want to see how the laws were actually revised.

First I cut and pasted the articles affected by the 1916 revision from Okuda's website to this page. I then compared the text of these articles with the text of the actual revision law in Tashiro 1974. Next I added content from Tashiro that was not in Okuda. Finally I formatted the text to facilitate its presentation here, and marked the text to facilitate understanding how the extant law was revised.

English translation

The translation is mine (William Wetherall).

Highlighting

1916 revisions are shown in blue.
1924 revisions are shown in purple.
1st 1948 revision is shown in red.
2nd 1948 revision is shown in green.

朕帝国議会ノ協賛ヲ経タル国籍法中改正法律ヲ裁可シ茲ニ之ヲ公布セシム

   御名御璽
   摂政名
     大正十三年七月二十二日
       内閣総理大臣 子爵 加藤 高明
       内務大臣 若槻礼次郎

法律第十九号 (官報号外)
I [the emperor] sanction the law of revisions in the Law of Nationality which has passed the approval of the Imperial Diet and herein promugate it.

   Imperial seal [Yoshihito]
     Name of regent [Hirohito]
     Taisho 13-7-22 [22 July 1924]
       Prime Minister of the Cabinet Viscount Kato Takaaki
       Minister of Home Affairs Wakatsuki Reijiro

Law No. 19 (Kanpo Extra edition)
国籍法中左ノ通改正ス The Law of Nationality is revised as to the left.
第二十条ノ二
勅令ヲ以テ指定スル外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人ハ命令ノ定ムル所ニ依リ日本ノ国籍ヲ留保スルノ意思ヲ表示スルニ非サレハ其出生ノ時ニ遡リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ

前項ノ規定ニ依リ日本ノ国籍ヲ留保シタル者又ハ前項ノ規定ニ依ル指定前其指定セラレタル外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人当該外国ノ国籍ヲ有シ且其国ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ其志望ニ依リ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為スコトヲ得

前項ノ規定ニ依リ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為シタル者ハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失フ
Article 20-2
As for Japanese who by reason of having been born in a foreign country designated by imperial ordinance have acquired the nationality of that country, should there be no expression of intent to retain the nationaltiy of Japan as they shall lose the nationality of Japan retroactive to the time of their birth according to the determinations of decrees.

Those who reserve the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provision of the preceding paragraph, and when a Japanese who by reason of having been born before the designation according to the provision of the preceding paragraph has acquired the nationality of that country possess the nationality of the said country and possesses a domicile in the country shall be able to effect a renunication of the nationality of Japan in accordance with their wish.

Those who have effected a renunciation of nationality in accordance with the provision of the preceding paragraph shall lose the nationality of Japan.
第二十条ノ三
前条第一項ノ外国以外ノ外国ニ於テ生マレタルニ因リテ其国ノ国籍ヲ取得シタル日本人カ其国ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為スコトヲ得

前条第三項ノ規定ハ前項ノ規定ニ依リ国籍ノ離脱ヲ為シタル者ニ之ヲ準用ス
Article 20-3
When a Japanese who by reason of having been born in a foreign country other than a foreign country of paragraph one of the preceding article has acquired the nationality of that country posseses a domicile in that country, the [Japanese] shall be able to effect a renunciation of the nationality of Japan by obtaining the permission of the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General.

As for the provision of paragraph three of the preceding article, this shall apply mutatis mutandis to those who have effected a renunciation of nationality in accordance with the provision of the preceding paragraph [of this article].
第二十四条中「前六条」ヲ「第十九条、第二十条及前三条」ニ、「前七条」ヲ「前八条」ニ改ム
第二十四条
満十七年以上ノ男子ハ前五条前六条第十九条、第二十条及前三条ノ規定ニ拘ハラス既ニ陸海軍ノ現役ニ服シタルトキ又ハ之ニ服スル義務ナキトキニ非サレハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ハス

現ニ文武ノ官職ヲ帯フル者ハ前六条前七条前八条ノ規定ニ拘ハラス其官職ヲ失ヒタル後ニ非サレハ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ハス
In Article 24 change "the preceding six articles" to "Article 19, Article 20, and preceding three articles", and "the preceding seven articles" to "the preceding eight articles".
Article 24
A male of fully 17 years of age or above, notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding five articles the preceding six articles Article 19, Article 20, and preceding three articles, shall not lose the nationality of Japan if not at a time he has already fulfilled active service in the Army or Navy or at a time he does not have the duty to fulfill this [service].

A person who presently occupies a civil or military government post, notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding six articles the preceding seven articles the preceding eight articles, shall not lose the nationality of Japan if not after having lost the government post.
第二十六条中「第二十条、第二十条ノ二又ハ第二十一条」を「第二十条及至第二十一条」ニ改メ同条第二項ヲ消ル
第二十六条
第二十条、第二十条ノ二又ハ第二十一条 第二十条及至第二十一条ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ日本ニ住所ヲ有スルトキハ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ノ許可ヲ得テ日本ノ国籍ヲ回復スルコトヲ得但第十六条ニ掲ケタル者カ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル場合ハ此限ニ在ラス

前項ノ許可ノ申請ハ第二十重条ノ二ノ規定ニ依リテ日本ノ国籍ヲ失ヒタル者カ十五年未満ナルトキハ日本ノ国籍ノ離脱ノ際其ノ者ノ属セシ家ニ在ル父、父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ母、母之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖父、祖父之ヲ為スコト能ハサルトキハ祖母ヨリ之ヲ為スコトヲ要ス
In Article 26 change "Article 20, Article 20-2, or Article 21" to "Article 20 through Article 21" and delete paragraph 2 of the same article.
Article 26
When a person who has lost the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provisions of Article 20, Article 20-2, or Article 21 Article 20 through Article 21 possesses a domicile in Japan, [the person] shall be able to regain the nationality of Japan having received the permission of the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General. However, in the event a person has held up to Article 16, [this provision] will not apply. [ == Provided, however, that this will not apply in the event a person has complied with Article 16].

As for the application for permission of the preceding paragraph, when a person who has lost the nationality of Japan in accordance with the provisions of Article 20-2 is not yet fully fifteen years of age, at the time of renunciation of the nationality of Japan, it shall be necessary to effect this through the father in the family affilated with the person, or when the father cannot do this the mother, or when the mother cannot do this a grandfather, or when a grandfather cannot do this a grandmother.
第二十七条ノ二
国籍ノ離脱及回復ニ関スル手続ハ命令ヲ以テ之ヲ定ム
Article 27-2
As for applications concerning renunciation and restoration of nationality, [these] shall be determined by decrees.
附則 Supplementary provisions
本法施行ノ期日ハ勅令ヲ以テ之ヲ定ム The date of the enforcement of this law shall be determined by imperial ordinance.

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1924 Nationality Law Enforcement Regulations

While there had been a number of ministerial ordinances concerning enforcement of the 1873 Great Council of State proclamation and the 1899 Nationality Law, these are the first "Nationality Law Enforcement regulations" so-called.

1924 enforcement regulation (Ordinance No. 26)
Guidelines for administering 1899 Nationality Law from 1 December 1924

Japanese text

The following Japanese text is transcribed from Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974 (pages 839-841).

English translations

The structural translation is mine (William Wetherall). The numbers are as stipulated in the original.

The received translation is from Richard W. Flournoy, Jr., and Manley O. Hudson, A Collection of Nationality Laws of Various Countries as Contained in Consitutions, Statutes and Treaties, New York] Oxford University Press, 1929, pages 386-388. The source attribution is "Text from enclosusre with Despatch No. 17, December 1, 1924, from the American Ambassador to Japan to the Secretary of State." Notes are numbered as received.

Highlighting

1st 1948 revision is shown in red.
2nd 1948 revision is shown in green.

内務省令
第二十六号
Ministry of Home Affairs
Ordinance No. 26
Japanese text Structural translation
国籍法施行規則左ノ通定ム

   大正十三年十一月十七日

     内務大臣 若槻礼次郎
     外務大臣 男爵 幣原喜重郎
The Nationality Law enforcement regulation is decided as to the left.


   Taisho 13-11-17 [17 November 1924]


     Minister of Home Affairs Wakatsuki Reijiro
     Minister of Foreign Affairs Baron Shidehara Kijuro
Japanese text Structural translation Received translation

第一条
国籍法第七条第一項ノ規定ニ依リ帰化ヲ為サムトスル者ハ帰化ニ必要ナル条件ヲ具備スルコトヲ証スヘキ書類ヲ添ヘ其ノ住所地ヲ管轄スル地方庁ヲ経テ内務大臣主務大臣法務総裁ニ其ノ許可の申請ヲ為スシ

Article 1
A person who would effect naturalization in accordance with the provisons of paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Nationality Law, shall effect an application for permission [for naturalization] to the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General through the regional agency having jurisdiction in the [person's] place of domicile, attaching documents which verify that [the person] satisfies the conditions necessary for naturalization.

Article 1
Those desiring to become naturalized in accordance with the provisions of clause 1, Article 7 of the Nationality Law shall transmit a petition, together with documents setting forth the facts necessary in fulfilling the process of naturalization, to the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General, through the authorities having jurisdiction over its place of domicile, and shall obtain the permission therefor of the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General.

第二条
国籍法第二十条ノ二第一項ノ規定ニ依リ国籍ヲ留保セントスルトキハ戸籍法第七十二条第一項又ハ第二項ノ規定ニ依リ出生ノ届出ヲ為ス者戸籍法第六十九条ノ期間内ニ出生ノ届出ニ添ヘ其ノ旨ヲ届出スヘシ

天災又ハ避クヘカラサル事由ニ因リ前項ノ期間内ニ国籍ノ留保ノ届出ヲ為ス能ハサル場合ニ於テハ其ノ期間ハ届出ヲ為スコトヲ得ルニ至リタル時ヨリ之ヲ起算ス

航海中ニ出生シタル者ニ関シテハ第一項ノ届出ハ戸籍法第七十五条第二項又ハ第三項ノ規定ニ依リ船長ノ発送スル航海日誌ノ謄本ニ其ノ届書ヲ添付スルコトニ依リ之ヲ為スコトヲ得

Article 2
When retaining nationality in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 20-2 of the Nationality Law, the person who effects a making of a notification of birth in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 72 of the Family Registration Law shall make a notification of [his] intent [to retain nationality] accompaning the making of the notification of birth within the time period of Article 69 of the Family Registration Law.

In the event that [one] is unable to effect the making of a notification of retention of nationality within the time period of the preceding paragraph, due to a natural disaster or [other] causes that could not have been avoided, the time period shall be calculated from the time from which [one] was able to effect the making of a notification.

Regarding a person who is born at sea, as for the making of the notification of paragraph 1, it shall be possible to effect it by attaching the notification document to a certified copy of the navigation log the ship's captain will issue in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 75 of the Family Registration Law.

Article 2
Those desiring to preserve their nationality in accordance with the provisions of clause 1 of Article 20 (2) of the Nationality Law, and being those who are required to submit a report of birth by clause 1 or clause 2 of Article 72 [Note 3] of the Census Domicile Law, shall file a report to that effect, together with a report of birth, within the period set forth in Article 69 of the Census Domicile Law.

Those unable to file a statement preserving their nationality within the period specified above, due to an Act of God or other unavoidable cause, the period within which the report may be made shall be calculated from the moment on which the Act of God or other cause shall have occurred.

In the case of those born at sea, the report mentioned in paragraph 1 shall, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 2 or 3 of Article 75 [Note 4] of the Census Domicile Law, be accompanied by a certified copy of the ship's daily log which is required to be filed by the Master.

Note 3  Providing for the registration of legitimate and illegitimate children.

Note 4  Providing for the registration and reports of births at sea.

Comment on Article 2

The received translation totally misrepresents the procedure clearly described in the Japanese text. The person whose nationality is being retained is an infant child, who obviously cannot make a notification of its own birth much less an intent to retain its own nationality. A parent or other person as provided by law was responsible for filing notifications of birth and intent to retain nationality. The notifications had to be made together, generally within two weeks of the child's birth.

1914 Family Registration Law

Article 72 stipulated who was obliged to file a notification of birth: (1) the father of a legitimate child (or the mother if the father was unable); (2) the father of a recognized child born out of wedlock; (3) the mother of a child that was neither legitimate nor recognized. If neither parent was able to file a child's notification of birth, it could be filed by (4) the head of household, a co-resident, the doctor or midwife who witnessed the birth, another person who attended the birth.

Article 75 stipulated procedures for filing a notification of birth in the event a child was born at sea.

第三条

Article 3

Article 3
Those desiring to divest themselves of Japanese nationality in accordance with the provisions of Article 20 (2) of the Nationality Law, shall file a report with the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General through the Japanese embassy or legation of the country in which they reside.

The report referred to in the previous paragraph shall be made in the case of those less than fifteen years of age, by their legal representative. In the case of those not of age and more than fifteen years of age, or of legal incompetents, the report shall be filed only with the consent of their legal representatives.

Whenever the report mentioned in the preceding paragraphs is to be made by a stepfather, stepmother, or guardian, or whenever the consent of such persons is required, the consent of the family council shall also be obtained.

第四条

Article 4

Article 4
The report mentioned in the preceding article shall be accompanied by the following documents:

(1) Certified copy of census domicile.
(2) A certificate of birth issued or authenticated by an official of the country of birth.
(3) Whenever the consent of third parties is required by paragraphs 2 or 3 of the preceding article, their consent in written form.

第五条

Article 5

Article 5
Those desiring to divest themselves of Japanese nationality in accordance with the provisions of clause 1 of Article 20 (2) of the Nationality Law shall in accordance with the provisions of Articles 3 and 4, seek to obtain the permission of the Minister of Interior competent minister Attorney General.

第六条

Article 6

Article 6
The consent of the divestment of Japanese nationality shall become effective thirty days after the day following the date of the certificate of consent.

第七条

Article 7

Article 7
Whenever the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General shall receive a report of the divestment of Japanese nationality, or whenever his consent is given for the divestment of Japanese nationality, the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General shall make it public.

第八条

Article 8

Article 8
Those desiring to recover their Japanese nationality in accordance with the provisions of Article 25 or 26 of the Nationality Law, shall seek to obtain the consent of the Minister of the Interior competent minister Attorney General in accordance with the provisions of Article 1 above.

Whenever the petition for the consent referred to in the preceding paragraph is required of one less than fifteen years of age, who has lost his nationality in accordance with Article 20 (2) or (3) of the Nationality Law, the request shall be made by his father; if the father is unable to make this request, then by the mother; and if she be unable also, then by a grandfather, and if either one is unable to do so, then by a grandmother.

附則

Supplementary provisions

Ministry of Interior Ordinance No. 8

This ministerial ordinance dealt with "Matters concerning renunciation of nationality" (国籍ノ離脱ニ関スル件). It was issued on 10 July 1916 and became effective from 1 August 1916, thus facilitating Law No. 27 which, enforced from the same day, revised the Nationality Law so as to permit renunciation.

Supplementary provisions

This ordinance shall become effective on December 1, 1924.

Ordinance No. 8 of the Department of the Interior is hereby revoked.

Applications for the divestment of Japanese nationality made in accordance with the provisions of Ordinance No. 8 before the date on which this ordinance shall become effective, shall, in the case of those Japanese who have acquired foreign nationality by reason of birth in any foreign country specified in Imperial Ordinance No. 262 of 1924, be regarded as applications for the divestment of Japanese nationality required by this ordinance; and they shall be regarded as having been made on the date on which this ordinance shall become effective.

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1925 San Francisco Consulate General of Japan case books

In 1925, the San Francisco Consulate General of Japan compiled and published Documental History of Law Cases affecting Japanese in the United States 1916-1924 in two thick paperbound volumes. Volume 1 covered Naturalization Cases and Cases Affecting Constitutional and Treaty Rights. Volume 2 covered Japanese Land Cases.

While the cases in this publication involve US and not Japanese status laws, its timing reflects the gravity of 1924 developments in US-Japan relations regarding the issue of "race" in US immigration, alien property, and naturalization laws, and Japan's responses to US fears of dual nationality.

See SF CG of Japan 1925 in Nationality section of Bibliography for particulars and review.

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First 1948 revision of 1899 Nationality Law

This revision did not effect the provisions of the Nationality Law but changed only the name of the competent minister who oversaw the administration of the law. The revision was effected by an article in a law that abolished the Ministry of Interior Affairs and other administrative structures at the end of 1947 as directed by the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ/SCAP) during the Occupation of Japan after World War II.

From 1 January 1948, what had been the Naimushō (内務省) or "Interior Ministry" since 1873, headed by the Naimu Daijin (内務大臣) or "Minister of Interior" since 1885, was dispanded.

The 1899 Nationality Law was revised to reflect this change in the title of the competent minister.

1st 1948 revision of 1899 Nationality Law (Law No. 239)
Changes "Interior Minister" to "competent minister"

Japanese text

The Japanese text is from Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974 (page 836)

Only parts affecting the Nationality Law are shown.

English translation

The English translation is mine.

内務省官制等廃止に伴う法令の整理に関する法律 Law concerning the disposal of laws and ordinances attending the abolishment of the Interior Ministry administrative system and others
内務省官制等廃止に伴う法令の整理に関する法律をここに公布する。

   御名御璽
     昭和二十二年十二月二十六日
       内閣総理大臣 片山 哲

法律第二百三十九号
[We] hereby promulgate the Law concerning the disposal of laws and ordinances attending the abolishment of the Interior Ministry administrative system and others.

   Imperial seal [Hirohito]
     Showa 22-12-26 [26 December 1947]
       Prime Minister of the Cabinet Katayama Tetsu

Law No. 239
[ 施行 昭和二十八年一月一日 ] [ Enforced from 1 January 1948 ]
第一条
左に揚げる法令中「内務大臣」を「主務大臣」に改める。

  国籍法
Article 1
In the laws and ordinances cited to the left change "Interior Minister" to "competent minister".

  Nationality Law
附則 Supplementary provisions
この法律は、昭和二十八年一月一日から、これを施行する。

       内務大臣 木村小左衛門
       外法大臣 芦田 均
       内閣総理大臣 片山 哲
This Law shall come into force from 1 January 1948.

       Minister of Interior Kimura Kozaemon
       Minister of Foreign Affairs Ashida Hitoshi
       Prime Minister of the Cabinet Katayama Tetsu

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Second 1948 revision of 1899 Nationality Law

This revision did not effect the provisions of the Nationality Law but changed only the name of the competent minister who oversaw the administration of the law. The revision was effected by an article in a law that replaced the Ministry of Justice with the Attorney General's Office, as directed by the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ/SCAP) during the Occupation of Japan after World War II.

From 15 February 1948, what had been the Shihōshō (司法省) or "Ministry of Justice" since Meiji 4-7-9 (24 August 1871) headed by the Shih#333; Daijin (司法大臣) or "Minister of Justice" since 1885, was replaced by the Hōmuchō (法務庁) or "Attorney General's Office" headed by the Hōmu Sōsai (法務総裁) or "Attorney General".

The 1899 Nationality Law was revised to reflect this change in the title of the competent minister. Such a revision was unnecessary when from 1 June 1949 the office was renamed the Hōmufu (法務府), because the title of the competent minister did not change. The English terms for both the office and the title of the competent minister also remained unchanged.

2nd 1948 revision of 1899 Nationality Law (Law No. 195)
Changes "competent minister" to "Attorney General"

Japanese text

The Japanese text is from Tashiro Aritsugu, Kokusekihō chikujō kaisetsu [An article by article commentary on the Nationality Law], Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan, 1974 (pages 835-836)

Only parts affecting the Nationality Law are shown.

English translation

The English translation is mine.

法務庁設置法に伴う法令の整理に関する法律 Law concerning the disposal of laws and ordinances attending the Attorney General's Office Establishment Law
法務庁設置法に伴う法令の整理に関する法律をここに公布する。

   御名御璽
     昭和二十二年十二月十七日
       内閣総理大臣 片山 哲

法律第百九十五号
[We] hereby promulgate the Law concerning the disposal of laws and ordinances attending the Attorney General's Office Establishment Law.

   Imperial seal [Hirohito]
     Showa 22-12-17 [17 December 1947]
       Prime Minister of the Cabinet Katayama Tetsu

Law No. 195
[ 施行 昭和二十八年二月二十五日 ] [ Enforced from 15 February 1948 ]
第十四条
左に揚げる法令中「主務大臣」を「法務総裁」に改める。

  国籍法
Article 14
In the laws and ordinances cited to the left change "competent minister" to "Attorney General".

  Nationality Law
附則 Supplementary provisions
第十七条
この法律は、公布の後六十日を経過した日から、これを施行する。

       内閣総理大臣 片山 哲
       内務大臣 木村小左衛門
       司法大臣 鈴木 義男
This Law shall come into force from the day as of which sixty days have passed after promulgation.

       Prime Minister of the Cabinet Katayama Tetsu
       Minister of Interior Kimura Kozaemon
       Minister of Justice Suzuki Yoshio

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