Nationality confirmation cases

How Japanese courts have adjudicated postwar nationality disputes

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 August 2006
Last updated 10 August 2014

This article is a very brief overview of several prominent post-Occupation cases seeking confirmation of Japanese nationality in the light of the 1899 and 1950 nationality laws, legacy territorial status laws, and the 1952 Peace Treaty. The judgments themselves are presented at the following links in the Sovereign Empire feature of this website.

Kanda v. State, 1961 Interior woman who married Chosen man lost nationality
Kagoshima v. State, 1998 Child of Interior woman lost nationality through acknowledgement
Saitama v. State, 2004 Child of Interior woman and Chosen man did not lose nationality
1955 German ruling Former Austrian who became German reverts to Austrian status

Nationality confirmation cases

Nationality in Japan, as a legal status since the establishment of national status laws during the Meiji period, has always been a matter of legal procedure. Legal procedures have involved mainly the authority of standing laws, including treaties, but at times have required administrative decisions or court rulings based on interpretations of statutes and regulations, and at times also customary practices.

During the Occupation of Japan from 1945-1952, the Japanese nationality status of people in household registers affiliated with the non-prefectural territories of Taiwan and Chōsen after World War II, or with Okinawa and Karafuto, was complicated by the separation of these territories from "Occupied Japan" as a legal entity. Such people residing in Occupied Japan continued to possess Japanese nationality, but were treated as "non-Japanese" for purposes of "repatriation", while Taiwanese and Chosenese were also treated as "aliens" for purposes of registration.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty, effective from 28 April 1952, confirmed the territorial dispositions Japan had accepted when surrendering on 2 September 1945. From treaty's enforcement date, Chosenese and Taiwanese -- meaning people in Chōsen or Taiwan registers -- lost their Japanese nationality. Okinawans and Karafutoans in Japan continued to possess Japanese nationality, and in 1972, when Okinawa reverted to Japan, Okinawan prefectural registrants reverted to Japanese nationality.

During the Occupation of Japan, Taiwan and Chōsen household register status laws continued to operate in Occupied Japan, in conjunction with status laws that applied to the prefectures. The 1948 Family Register Law and the 1950 Nationality Law added new wrinkles to status determinations, and especially , marked the start of a new Family Register Law, Changes in the prefectural family register law in 1948, and the Nationality