Long Term Residents of Japan

Refugees, war strandees, and foreign-born aliens of Japanese descent

(and Spouses or Children of Japanese Nationals or Permanent Residents)

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 September 2010
Last updated 15 September 2010

The status of "Long Term Resident" has been defined since 1990, when the 1952 status-of-residence scheme was replaced by a new classification system.

The 1990 system divided statuses into restricted activity (visa) status, and unrestricted-activity (non-visa) statuses. The later included Permanent Resident, Spouse or Child of Japanese National, Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident (either "Permanent Resident" or "Special Permanent Resident"), and Long Term Resident.

Applications for the latter three statuses -- Spouse or Child of Japanese, Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident, and Long Term Resident -- are made on the same or similar forms

The Long Term Stay status is permitted by the Minister of Justice in consideration of special circumstances. These circumstances include present circumstances that compel an alien to seek recognition in Japan as a political refugee, historical circumstances that resulted in displacement and alienation overseas during World War II, and family circumstances such as second or third generation descent from Japanese emigrants.

The Ministry of Justice designates the period for which a Long Term Resident is permitted to stay on a case by case basis, but generally in measures of 1 or 3 years. The status, while not permanent, can be extended indefinitely, so long as the alien continues to meet qualifications. Moreover, Long Term Residents may later apply, if qualified, for permission to permanenty reside or even naturalize.


The Long Term Resident status was created to facilitate older statuses which existed before the introduction of the 1990 status-of-residence scheme, as well as provide opportunities for more foreigners, especially those with familial ties to Japan, to freely work in the country.


Refugees, formally accommodated since the incorporation of treaty provisions into the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law in 1981, have to apply for recognition as a refugee. Applicants may already have a status of residence, or may have only provisional stay permits.

Approved applicants are issued a "Certificate of Refugee Status" which facilitates a number of other which is essentially an alien passport -- i.e., it secures them a right of abode in Japan as an alien protected under international treaties. they are permitted to reside in Japan with a "Long Term Status", which which places no restrictions on their activities.

as a refugee. for "Spouse or Child of Japanese National, "Spouse or Chfor recognition of refugee status are separate


身分又は地位   Personal relationship or status

日本人の配偶者   Spouse of Japanese national

日本人の実子   Biological child of Japanese national

日本人の特別養子   Child adopted by Japanese nationals in accordance with the provisions of Article 817-2 of the Civil Code (Law No. 89 of 1896)

永住者又は特別永住者の配偶者   Spouse of Permanent Resident or Special Permanent Resident

永住者又は特別永住者の実子   Biological child of Permanent Resident or Special Permanent Resident

日本人の実子の実子   Biological child of biological child of Japanese national

日本人の実子又は「定住者」の配偶者   Spouse of biological child of Japanese national or "Long Term Resident"

日本人・永住者・特別永住者・日本人の配偶者・永住者の配偶者又は「定住者」の未成年で未婚の実子   Biological child who is a minor of Japanese, "Permanent Resident", "Special Permanent Resident", Spouse of Japanese national, Spouse of Permanent Resident or "Long Term Resident"

日本人・永住者・特別永住者又は「定住者」の6歳未満の養子   Adopted child who is under 6 years old of Japanese, "Permanent Resident", "Special Permanent Resident" or "Long Term Resident"

その他   Others

-- concering the status of aliens in Japan who legally qualify as former exterior Japanese subjects (Taiwanese, Chosenese, and others) who were in the prefectures at the end of World War II in 1945 and remained there, and descendants born and raised in Japan afterward --

In other words, the entire population of qualified former subjects and their descendants in Japan as of 1966 was taken as the "first generation" to which the law applied. This population included those who had migrated to the prefectures from Chosen during the decades before the end of the war, and those who had been born in prefectures before or after the war, but before 1966.

A man born in 1963 to parents who were themselves born in the prefectures to migrants from the peninsula would be considered as "sansei" by conventional count. But legally he, his parents, and his grandparents were all "issei".

descendants born and raised in Japan, World War II or their Japan born and raised descendants, the "issei" generation is taken to be any such person "nisei" (二世) and "sansei" (三世) may be labels for the first and second generations born after the war parents who were themselves the children or even grandchildren of Taiwanese or Chosenese who had migrated to the interior. The parents are counted as the "issei" (一世) of the postwar population of former imperial subjects who lost their Japanese nationality through laws implementing provisions in postwar treaties.