Japanese nationality given to kids born to unmarried foreign mothers

A revised bill of the Nationality Law that allows children born to unmarried Japanese fathers and foreign mothers to acquire Japanese nationality with only the father's acknowledgement of paternity was enacted on Friday (Dec. 5, 2008).

In article three of the current law, children of unmarried parents cannot obtain Japanese nationality. In June, the Supreme Court ruled the article that requires the marriage of parents unconstitutional. The Nationality Law was revised to follow the rule. The new law will come into effect early next year.

With the passing of the law, new penalties have been introduced to prevent the illegal acquisition of Japanese nationality by false acknowledgement of paternity by Japanese men. The Legal Affairs Bureau may require the interview with father and pictures of Japanese parent and the child to make sure the authenticity.

If a person submits an application for acquiring nationality to the Legal Affairs Bureau using a false acknowledgement of paternity, he or she will be imprisoned for up to one year or be fined up to 200,000 yen. If the person also submits the false acknowledgement of paternity or family registration to a municipal government -- legally seen as making a false entry in an officially authenticated instrument -- the maximum penalty will be seven years and six months in prison.