Rees v. State, 1992-1995

Supreme Court confirms child's jus soli nationality

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 June 2014
Last updated 4 July 2023

Overview Origin Rulings Chronology Quality of opinion Sources, presentation, commentary Works cited
Rees v. State judgment Particulars Findings Summary Relevant laws Main text Reasons Justices
Related article Statelessness in Japan
Related article Treaties concerning statelessness

Overview of Rees v. State, 1992-1995

I am calling this case "Rees v. State" after the family name of William and Roberta Rees, the adult guardians of the child plaintiff Robert Rees Andrew (ロバート・リース・アンデレ), their adopted son. The case originated in 1992 when the Rees sued the Japanese government on behalf of Andrew in what is called a "Nationality existence confirmation request case" (Kokuseki sonzai kakunin seikyū jiken 国籍存在確認請求).

In January 1991, a woman who was thought to be a Filipino gave birth to a boy, later named Andrew, in a hospital in Komoro city (小諸市), Nagano prefecture (長野県). The boy's father was unkown. and after delivering him, his mother disappeared.

The Rees, American missionaries residing in Komoro, had decided before the boy was born to adopt the woman's child, and armed with a birth notification form on which the birth certificate part of the form had been completed by a physician at the hospital, they attempted to register the boy -- which they named Andrew -- at the Komoro municipal hall.

The registrar regarded Andrew as a Filipino, and so registered him as an alien with Philippine nationality. However, as reported by the Rees' principal attorney, Nakagawa Akira (中川明), when queried about the mother's identity, the doctor at the hospital said she was born on 21 November 1965 but he [presumably] didn't known her nationality.

The Rees, needing to go to the United States on business related to their work, applied at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo for a passport for their child but were told that they could not issue one unless the mother herself applied so that the embassy could confirm her status as a Philippine citizen. As the mother's identity and whereabouts were unknown, the Rees had no choice but to regard their son as stateless, which meant more rounds between the municipal office and the regional Legal Affairs Bureau.

Apparently Komoro officials asked the local Legal Affairs Bureau -- namely the Saku Branch of the Nagano Regional Legal Affairs Bureau, in neighboring Saku city -- for guidance regarding how to treat Andrew's registration. Higashizawa Yasushi (東沢靖), who represented the Rees with 4 other attorneys, including Nakagawa Akira (中川明), cited the branch office's guidance as follows (Higashizawa 1993, page 164, my transcription and structural translation).




8 February 1991, Nagano Regional Legal Affair Bureau, Saku Branch Bureau Director, 3rd Instruction

There is no objection to accepting the above [birth] notification.

Please regard the nationality of the mother and child as [that of] the Republic of the Philippines. Concerning its [family and personal] names, please [have] the mayor of the city name [the child].

Higashizawa (and others) objected that the Legal Affairs Bureau had no right to determine the mother's and child's nationality without confirmation by the Philippine government.

Regional Legal Affairs Bureaus

Legal Affairs Bureaus, which are part of the Ministry of Justice, handle all manner of civil matters outside the briefs of local governments. Municipal halls oversee the local enforcement the Civil Code and Family Register Law -- and, at the time (until 9 July 2011), the Alien Register Law -- among other national laws that the nationality government partly entrusts to the administration of municipal and prefectural governments . Otherwise, such laws are the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice. Hence local officials, who work for local governments and not for the national government, direct questions regarding unusual matters to an appropriate office of the Ministry of Justice, in this case the regional Legal Affairs Bureau, which deals with questions about nationality.

The Saku Branch Bureau was not acting in an arbitrary manner. It reasonably assumed that the mother -- who was said to be a Filipino -- had an authentic Philippine passport. Never mind that she had run off, she was still responsible for her child's birth. And the bureau, which is the business of enforcing Japan's standing laws, expected her to follow ordinary procedures -- i.e., to file a copy of the child's birth certificate at the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo. The bureau also had good reason to expect that the embassy, following the Philippine Nationality Law, would recognize the child as a citizen of the Philippines.

The bureau was not abusing its authority but, on the contrary, acting in accordance with normal procedure in such cases. It naturally took the position that the jus soli provision of Article 2, Paragraph 1 of Japan's Nationality Law did not apply to the woman's child because she, as its mother, was known. It also seemed that she was not Japanese, and that the child's father was not known. Hence the child's status would have to be based on the mother's home country law.

The bureau had reason to think that the mother was a Filipino, in which case her child's nationality would be at the mercy of Philippine law. The Philippine Nationality Law, like Japan's Nationality Law, is a basically jus sanguinis law, and it was reasonable to expect that the child would qualify for Philippine nationality.

Even had the mother not disappeared, but told authorities that the child's father was a Japanese man, unless he was her husband -- or, if he wasn't her husband, unless he came forth and recognized the child in a timely manner -- the child would not qualify for Japanese nationality. Note that Japanese law takes the husband of a married woman to be the father of any and all children she bears in the marriage, and up to 300 days after divorce or his death, and hence the father of a married woman is by definition known. The opposite assumption is made in the case of the child of an unmarried woman -- i.e., its father is by definition not known unless he comes forth and acknowledges his paternity.

How registrar's think

I personally experienced exactly how registrars think.

Registrars are generally very familiar with the workings of Japanese status laws and ordinary legal procedure and precedent. They're not infallible, and occasionally but not often -- out of careless or ignorance, if not sometimes prejudice -- they will make mistakes. And now and then they encounter a case they've never seen before, and they have to thumb through the applicable laws and look for precedents -- or request guidance from a competent agency of the Ministry of Justice, such as a Legal Affairs Bureau or Family Court.

Before 1985, Japan's 1950 Nationality Law was primarily patrilineal. Article 2, Items 1 and 2, father Japanese), secondarily matrilineal (Item 3, mother Japanese, father unknown or father known but stateless), and tertiarily jus soli (Item 4, child born in Japan, neither parent known, or both parents stateless).

Because I, an American, and my then wife, a Japanese, were married, she was disqualified as a source of birthright Japanese nationality for our children, born in 1978 and 1982. Since we had decided before their birth to take the explicit sexual discrimination in the Nationality Law to court, we submitted birth notifications which we completed as though our children ought to qualify for Japanese nationality. As expected, the registrar refused to accept the notifications as submitted, at which point we asked for a formal statement indicating the legal grounds for refusal.

Predictably, there were precisely two grounds -- (1) items 1-4 of Article 2 of Japan's Nationality Law, and (2) Article 17 of Japan's Rules of Laws (法例 Hōrei).

"Rules of Laws?" people will say. Every sovereign state has laws of laws, which govern private international law. Such laws, to minimize conflicts between the laws of different countries regarding private matters, determine applicable law mainly on the basis of a person's nationality and residential status. At the time of the births of our children, Article 17 of Japan's Rules of Laws made the following provision for the determination of a child's nationality presumed to have been born in Japan (my structural translation and note).

第十七條   子ノ嫡出ナルヤ否ヤハ其出生ノ當時母ノ夫ノ屬シタル國ノ法律ニ依リテ之ヲ定ム若シ其夫カ子ノ出生前ニ死亡シタルトキハ其最後ニ屬シタル國ノ法律ニ依リテ之ヲ定ム

Article 17  Regardless of whether a child is an issue of [it's father's] legal spouse, it's [nationality] shall be determined in accordance with the laws of the country to which the husband of its mother belongs at the time of its birth. If her husband died before the child's birth, then its [nationality] shall be determined by the laws of the country to which he last belonged.

NoteRegardless of whether a child is an issue of [it's father's] legal spouse means "Regardless of whether a child was born in wedlock" or "Regardless of a child's legitimacy" -- in other words -- "Regardless of whether a child's mother is married".

This rule of nationality determination does not give Japan the right to assign the child the nationality of its presumed father. It merely provides that, when a child's nationality is to be acquired through its father, and the father is known, and the father has a nationality, then the child's nationality will be determined by the country of the father's nationality.

Local registrars, as municipal rather than national civil servants, are not generally concerned with matters that involve international private law. But nationality determination, in cases of children born beween Japanese and non-Japanese parents, or between foreign parents, is such a matter.

Legal bureaucrats in the Ministry of Justice, including its many regional Legal Affairs Bureaus and their branch offices, are generally better informed on matters of law and legal procedure and precedent and are available to answer questions raised by local registrars. Attorneys and public notaries (generally retired attorneys), who prepare wills and testaments, have to be familiar with the determination of applicable laws in matters of inheritance, in accordance with a person's nationality and/or legal domicile.


Origin of Rees v. State

Article 4 of the 1899 Nationality Law provided for acquisition of nationality by jus soli in cases of children born in Japan "when both the father and the mother are unknown ( 父母カ共ニ知レサルトキ fubo ga tomo ni shirezaru toki). This provision became Item 4 of Article 2 of the 1950 Nationality Law, which became Item 3 of Article 2 in the 1985 revision of the 1950 law, both of which also state "wehn both the father and the mother are unknown" (父母がともに知れないとき fubo ga tomo ni shirenai toki).

The main issue in Rees v. State was the definition of "unknown" -- i.e., "shirenai" -- which is perhaps closer to "cannot be known (ascertained)" or "are unknowable (for some reason)".


Court rulings in Rees v. State



Rees v. State chronology

Chronology of Rees v. State

The case of Andrew Rees begins with a boy-meet-girl encounter between his mother and his father. His mother is at once "known" but "unknown" woman whose identity is insufficiently known. She appears to have been a Filipino woman who had overstayed her visa, and she seems to have been working in bars and prostituting. The unknown father was probably one of her customers or lovers, and was most likely Japanese.

The woman, expecting a child, learns that the Rees are willing to adopt a child of a person in her position, and they make arrangements for an adoption. The mother is admitted to a hospital for delivery, and she gives her name and date of birth on an admission form. However, she leaves the hospital after giving birth and cannot be found to confirm her identity.

To be continued.

Chronology of Rees v. State, 1992-1995


Quality of Supreme Court opinion in Rees v. State

The judgment in this case is a wonderful example of the capacity of the Supreme Court to favor the spirit of a law over its literal interpretation. The judgment came down to the quality of what I would call the acknowledging father's MO.

The father's motives were judged to be have satisfied the intent of the law as he had attempted to comply with its requirement for paternal acknowledgement at the earliest opportunity. In other words, the timeliness of his acknowledgement was measured -- not by the date of his acknowledgement in relation to his child's birth -- but by his sincerity in attempting to acknowledge his child at the earliest legal opportunity.


Sources, presentation, and commentary


Received Japanese text of ruling

The Japanese text was extracted from a pdf file downloaded from the database accessible through the Japanese government's 裁判所 Courts in Japan website. Most case particulars and a summary were retrieved by a query using minimum case particulars. These particulars and the summary are also shown.

Received English translation

An English version of the Supreme Court ruling in Rees v. State has reportedly been published in The Japanese Annual of International Law, Number 40, 1997, pages 129ff (Steele 2004, page 184, note 30). I have shown here only parts quoted by Steele and my own structural translations of these and other selected parts.

Structural English translation

Because parts of the received translation do not accurately reflect the finer details and texture of the language of the Japanese ruling, I have occasionally shown structural translations of parts that are of special interest to me.

Formatting, commentary, and markup

I have divided the judgment into sections, and have somewhat reformatted the received texts and highlighted some words and phrases to facilitate analysis and commentary.


All underscoring in the text of the judgment is as received. Unless otherwise noted, the underscoring of corresponding parts of the received translation is mine. All underscoring in my own commentary is, of course, also mine.


Unless otherwise noted, all (parentheses) in the received text and translation are as received.

Square and angle brackets

All in-line [square brackets] and <angle brackets> -- and everything enclosed in such brackets -- are mine.

Structural translations and commentary

My own closer (structural) translations are generally shown in blue in cells below the received judgment and received translation. At times I have shown closer translations of words or short phrases in-line, between right and left → arrows ← following the amended text.

Editorial [clarifications] are shown in-line. Brief comments are sometimes boxed in the cells of the texts they relate to. Extended comments are generally shown in cells below the relevant texts.

Color highlighting

The received texts of the judgment and translation, and my own commentary, are shown in black. However, to facilitate commentary on the language of the ruling and/or its translation, I have highlighted specific words and phrases in various colors according to the following scheme, which includes in-line editorial clarifications and corrections.

Color Original Translation
Background highlighting
Blue Corresponding parts of two or more texts selected for comparison
Yellow Content added to received text to reconstruct a missing part
Pink Transcription or scanning errors parenthetically corrected in-line (sic = in-line)
Graphic highlighting
Blue [ Clarification ]   (in-line) [ Clarification ]   (in-line)
→ My closer translation ←   (in-line)
My closer translation   (boxed)
Green Presumed true and correct copy of the language of the original text May be too free and a bit off key but represents all elements or original

Nationality Law
Nationality Act   (unconventional)
Law / Act of Nationality   (unconventional)
Korea   (if "Empire of Korea" 1897-1910)
Purple Problematic phrasing or usage in the language of the original text Imprecise or awkward, incomplete or embellished, or otherwise inadequate
Citizenship → Nationality   (as legal status)
Korea → Republic of Korea   (since 1948)
Korea → Chōsen   (as territory 1910-1952)
Japan Proper → Interior   (as territory)
Red Incorrect phrasing or usage ※ Misleading or incorrect
renounce → abandon, relinquish
renounce, separate from
Korea → Chōsen   (as territory)
Cyan ※ When original is incorrect Mistranslation is more correct than original
the annexation of Korea by Japan
→ the union of Japan and Chōsen

※   The example of incorrect 朝鮮 (Chōsen) being mistranslated Korea (韓国 Kankoku), thus "accidentally" correcting the usage in the judgement, can be seen in Kanda v. State 1961.

1. While 朝鮮 (Chōsen) in the judgment is factually incorrect, the correct translation is "Chōsen" because that is what the original text says. Because the translators conflate "Chōsen" (朝鮮) with "Korea" (韓国 Kankoku), they habitually translate "Chōsen" as "Korea" -- which constitutes a "mistranslation" that in effect accidentally "corrects" the factual error in the original -- i.e., a double negative becomes a positive. But two wrongs don't make a right. Translators are not supposed to "edit" the content of legal briefs. They might flag a problematic expression for comment in a footnote, but the translation itself should be faithful to the original.

2. Note that where the judgment precisely paraphrases the phrasal logic of the expression "Nik-Kan heigō" (日韓併合) [Japan-Korea union] as "X to Y to no heigō" (XとYとの併合) [the union between X and Y], the received translation incorrectly represents the syntactic logic of the paraphrase as "the annexation of Y by X" -- which constitutes an interpretation of the effects of the union, not its formal description in Japanese law -- which I underscore, because the court is making a legal, not political, argument. Historiographic "opinion" external to received text of the original judgment, and its attempt to deal with the letter and operation of Japanese law is irrelevant. A translator might say that the past is past. Treaties, laws, and ordinances of the past -- though no longer enforced -- may continue to have effect in court reviews of what I call "legacy" cases, which involve status actions in the past.


Works cited

The rulings in the three Rees v. State court cases understandably got quite a bit of play in newspapers in Japan, and the small but dedicated sector of the foreign press that covers social issues in Japan. The Supreme Court judgment has also gotten a lot of attention in academic journals and a number of books, mostly in Japanese, but also in English, and I would guess also a few other languages.

Higashizawa 1993

Higashizawa Yasushi (東沢靖) represented the Rees in the first round of litigation in the Tokyo District Court, which in April 1993 ruled in their favor, namely that Andrew qualified for birth-right jus soli Japanese nationality. The following book, published 3 months later, ends with a detailed overview of Andrew's case.

東京:海風書房、1993年7月1日 第1版発行

Higashizawa Yasushi
Nagai tabi no omoni
(Bengoshi ga egaku / jiken no naka no gaikokujin gunzō)
[ The heavy baggage of a long journey
(An attorney depicts / a group of foreigners in cases) ]
< A long journey with a burden: A lawyer's sketch of foreigners and their cases in Japan >
Tokyo: Kaifū Shobō, 1 July 1993, 1st edition
207, xxiii pages, softcover

The 23 pages numbered in roman numerals, at and from the back of the book, are devoted to solid chapter summaries in good English -- like the < provided English title > on the cover. In the English summary of the Epilogue (あとがき), dated Spring 1993 (1993年春), Higashizawa credits "Mr. Suzuki Akihiko for helping me with translation." The fuller Japanese version credits Suzuki Akihiko (鈴木昭彦) of the "Ōta citizen network for living together with foreigners" (外国人と共に生きる太田・市民ネットワーク Gaikokujin to tomo ni ikiru Ō shimin nettowaaku) for his considerable exertions in checking the English summaries. Who originally wrote them, if not Higashizawa himself, is not clear.

On its website, the Ōta Citizens Network an NGO, dubs itself "OCNet (Ohta Citizens' Network for Peoples' Togetherness)" in English. This is a not uncommon example of "duplicity" in organizational naming, avoiding -- in this case -- a faithful English rendering of the notion that the "citizens" (市民 shimin) of Ōta ward, in Tokyo, are endeavoring to "live together" with "aliens" or "foreigners" or "outlanders" (外国人 gaikokujin).

The term "shimin" (市民) should imply anyone, regardless of nationality, who is registered as a resident of a 区民町村 (ku-min-chōson) -- a ward, city, town, or village -- of prefecture in Japan. "Japanese" and "foreigners" residing in Ōta are already "living together" as "citizens" of the same municipal polity -- and the only certain difference between "Japanese" and "foreigners" is their nationality -- not, as the Japanese (but not the English) version of OCNet's organization description would seem to imply.

The English expression "Peoples' Togetherness" has heavy overtones of "racioethnic peoples". The Japanese version of OCNet's blurb underscores the "ethnic" implications of the English version by speaking of exchanges among people whose languages, cultures, and customs variously differ. The English version speaks of the twain of "Japanese" and "non-Japanese" -- which hearkens of the "we Japanese" and "foreigners" refrain.

Andrew's case is the centerpiece of the 5th and final story (pages 161-202), which bears the following titles.

Kokuseki o motomeru kodomo-tachi: Kyūzō suru mukokuseki-ji to kokuseki kakunin saiban
[ Children seeking a nationality: Rapidly increasing stateless children and nationality confirmation court cases ]

Okuda 1996, 2003a

1996年10月30日 初版第1刷り発行
206 (本文)、3 (索引) ページ、単行本
2003年9月10日 増補版1刷り発行
207 (本文)、3 (索引)、単行本

Okuda Yasuhiro
Kazoku to kokuseki: Kokusaika no susumu naka de
[Family and nationality: In the midst of progressing internationalization] Hūhikaku sensho [Yūhikaku library]
Tokyo: Yūhikaku
30 October 1996, 1st edition, 1st printing
206 (main text), 3 (index) pages, softcover
10 September 2003, Expanded edition, 1st printing
207 (main text), 3 (index) pages

Okuda 2003b

Yasuhiro Okuda
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Japan's International Family Law including Nationality Law
Zeitschrift fuer Japanisches Recht / Journal of Japanese Law
Volume 15, Number 8, 2003
Pages 88-110

This article is an edited reprint from Hokudai Hōgaku Ronshū (北大法学論集) [The Hokkaido Law Review), Volume 54, Number 1, pages 456-429 [from higher to lower page numbers because article, in English, is published in a journal that features mostly Japanese articles on pages that run in the opposite direction].

Steele 2004

Stacey Steele
Comments on Okuda, Statelessness and the Nationality Act of Japan: Baby Andrew Becomes a Teenager and other Changes?
Zeitschrift fuer Japanisches Recht / Journal of Japanese Law
Number 18, February 2005 [2004]
Pages 178-192

This article is a critique of Okuda's article.


Main judgment in Supreme Court ruling in Rees v. State



2008 Supreme Court judgment in Boy v. State
Japanese text, English version, and commentary
Tokyo District Court





Court of first instance: Tokyo District Court

First instance case number: Heisei 4 [1992] (Gyo-??) ??

Date of first instance decision: ?? ?? ?? [Heisei ??-??-??]

Ruling: ??

Tokyo High Court




Court of original instance: Tokyo High Court

Original instance case number: Heisei 5 [1993] (Gyo-Ko) 43

Date of original decision: 26 January 1994 [Heisei 6]

The Tokyo High Court was the second instance court. Here it is called the "original instance court" from the viewpoint of the Supreme Court, since the case the Supreme Court was asked to review originated in the Tokyo High Court.

Supreme Court
Nationality confirmation case







判例集等巻・号・頁:民集 第49巻1号56頁

Case number: Heisei 7 [1995] (Gyo-Tsu) 71

Case name: Nationality confirmation

Date of judgment: 27 January 1995 [Heisei 7-01-27]

Court name: Supreme Court, Second Petit Bench

Type of judgment: Ruling

Results: Quashed original ruling and issued own judgment

Hanreishū tō [Court reports et cetera] Volume, Number, Page:
Minshū [Civil Affairs decisions] Volume 58, Number 5, Page 1328


判示事項 Findings
Received Japanese text Received English translation

一 国籍法二条三号にいう「父母がともに知れないとき」の意義

二 国籍法二条三号にいう「父母がともに知れないとき」に当たることの立証

1. Meaning of "When the father and the mother are together unknown" in Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the Nationality Law

2. Proof of application of "When the father and the mother are together unknown" in Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the Nationality Law

MOJ's English version of 父母がともに知れないとき (fubo ga tomo ni shirenai) is "When both parents are unknown". I am structurally translating the phrase as I have here because the main judgment interprets its meaning by paraphrasing it with different words, which I will also structurally render in order to facilitate their comparison (see below).

While "unknown" is a good translation of "shirenai" (知れない), this expression -- as a negative potential -- means "could not be known" despite attempts to know -- i.e., is presently unknown but could be known in the future. The negative passive "not known" would be "shirarete inai" (知られていない), which also stops short of declaring that something is "unknowable" no matter how much one attempts to know.

Structural translation

The underscoring in the received text, and in corresponding parts of the translation, reflects the received text. All bold or otherwise highlighted emphasis is mine.


裁判要旨 Summary of the judgment
Received Japanese text Structural English translation

一 国籍法二条三号にいう「父母がともに知れないとき」とは、父及び母のいずれもが特定されないときをいい、ある者が父又は母である可能性が高くても、これを特定するに至らないときは、右要件に当たる。

二 国籍の取得を主張する者が、出生時の状況等その者の父母に関する諸般の事情により、社会通念上、父及び母がだれであるかを特定することができないと判断される状況にあることを立証した場合には、国籍法二条三号にいう「父母がともに知れないとき」に当たると一応認定することができ、国籍の取得を争う者が、反証によって、ある者がその子の父又は母である可能性が高いことをうかがわせる事情が存在することを立証しても、父又は母であると特定するに至らない場合には、右認定を覆すことはできない。

1. "When the father and the mother are together unknown (知れない shirenai)" in Article 2, Item 3 of the Nationality Law says [means] when neither the father nor the mother have been specified [identified] (特定されない tokutei sarenai); and though the possibility is high that a certain person could be the father or the mother, when [the possibility] does not reach [the ability to] specify [identify] (特定する tokutei suru) [the person as the child's father or mother], [then] the [child] meets the requisite to the right [above] [to wit: "the father and the mother are together unknown"].

2. In an instance in which a person (party) who asserts (claims) acquisition of nationality, demonstrated (立証した risshō shita) that [the person] is in the situation in which it is judged [concluded] that -- in accordance with the situation et cetera at the time of [the person's] birth, the various circumstances concerning the person's father and mother -- in terms of conventional notions of society, specifying [identifying] who is the father and mother cannot be done, [then one] can provisionally certify (認定する nintei suru) that the person meets [the] "When the father and the mother are together unknown (知れない shirenai)" [provision] of Article 2, item 3 of the Nationality Law; even though a person (party) who disputes (objects to) the [claim of] acquisition of nationality [i.e., the State], in rebuttal, demonstrates that circumstances exist which suggest that the possibility that a certain person is the child's father or mother is high, in the instance in which [the possibility] does not reach [the ability to] specify [identify] that the person is the father or mother, [the demonstration of possibility alone] cannot overturn the right (above) certification.

To be continued.


参照法条 Relevant laws
Received Japanese text Received English translation


Nationality Law, Article 2, Paragraph 3; Civil Matters Litigation Law, Part 2, Chapter 3, Section 1, General Provisions


主文 Main text of the judgment
Received Japanese text Received English translation




The original judgment [judgment of prior (i.e., second) instance = Tokyo High Court judgment] is quashed.

The appeal [of the appellee = plaintiff in court of prior instance = State] is dismissed.

The cost of the first [kōso] appeal [to the Tokyo High Court] and the cost of the final [jōkoku] appeal [to this court] shall be born by the appellee [State].


理由 Reasons
Received Japanese text Structural English translation


一 原審の適法に確定した事実関係の概要は、次のとおりである。

    1 上告人の母は、平成三年一月四日、長野県厚生農業協同組合連合会D総合病院において外来患者として初診を受け、その後二回通院した後、同月一八日に入院して上告人を出産したが、上告人の出生届をしないまま、同月二三日に退院して行方不明となった。

    2(一) 上告人の母は、「セシリア・E」と名乗っていたが、D総合病院において受診し、同病院に入院した際、旅券、健康保険証等の身分を証する物は、何も所持しておらず、片言の英語と身振りで意思を伝えていた。

       (二) 上告人の母の入院の際、D総合病院職員がその供述に基づいて作成したカルテには、名前「セシリアME」、生年月日「一九六五年(昭和四〇年)一一月二一日」と記載されている。

       (三) 上告人の母が入院した際に提出された入院証書の患者の氏名欄には、「 Cecilee M.E」又は「Cecille M.E」、生年月日欄には「65年11月21日」と記載がされていたが、この記載はだれがしたのか不明である。

       (四) 上告人の母に会ったD総合病院の産婦人科婦長や後に上告人の養父となったFは、上告人の母はフィリピン人ではないかとの印象を抱いた。

    3 上告人の出生届は、上告人の出産に関与したD総合病院のG医師によって提出されたが、右届出に添付された「孤児養子縁組並びに移民譲渡証明書」と題する書面には、「Ma CEcilia E」が、「A」の唯一の親で、上告人の現在の養父母と養子縁組をするなどの記載がされており、その署名欄には、「Ma CEcilia E」と記載がされているが、この記載は、上告人の母に付き添っていた友人が代筆したものである。

    4 被上告人による調査の結果、次の事実が明らかになった。

       (一) 旅券を所持する者が本邦に上陸しようとする場合には、その者が、出入国管理及び難民認定法施行規則五条一項所定の入国記録カード(EDカード)を作成し、これを旅券と共に入国審査官に提出して、上陸の申請をすることとされているが、入国記録カードには、一九八八年二月二四日に、左記の者が、フィリピン共和国のマニラを発ち空路大阪から入国した旨の記録があり、その署名欄には「Ce cillia m E」と署名がされている。この者については、我が国からの出国の記録はない。


国  籍  フィリピン
性  別  女
生年月日  一九六〇年一一月二一日
旅券番号  F五三二九七六
目  的  観光

       (二) フィリピン共和国に対する旅券発行の有無についての照会結果によれば、一九八七年一〇月二六日、旅券番号F五三二九七六をもって、申請者CECILIA MERCADO Eに対して、旅券が発行されていること、同人の生月日(誕生日)は一一月二一日(生年の記録はない。)で、出生地はTalavera,Nueva Ecijaと記録されていることが判明した。

       (三) フィリピン共和国Nueva Ecija州Talavera市に提出されている出生証明書には、フィリピン国籍を有する婚姻した父母の間の子として、Cecilia Eが、一九六〇年一一月二一日に、Nueva Ecija州Talavera市において出生した旨の記載がされている(以下、右出生証明書に 係る者を「E本人」という)。

    5 上告人の父を知る手掛かりは何もない。

2. Concerning Article 2, item 1 and Article 3 of the Nationality Act

Article 2, item 1 of the Nationality Act provides that a child shall be a Japanese citizen if the father or mother is a Japanese citizen at the time of birth, applying the principle of jus sanguinis (the principle of granting nationality to a child based on the child's blood relationship with the father or mother) when determining the acquisition of Japanese nationality by birth. Therefore, if a child has a legal parent-child relationship with a Japanese father or Japanese mother at the time of birth, the child shall acquire Japanese nationality by birth.

二  上告人は、日本で生まれ、その父母がともに知れないから、国籍法(以下「法」という。)二条三号に基づいて日本国籍を取得したと主張して、日本国籍を有することの確認を求めて本訴を提起した。

   これに対し、原審は、前記事実関係の下において、次のとおり判示して、上告人の請求を棄却すべきものとした。すなわち、(1) 法二条三号の立法趣旨が無国籍者の発生をできる限り防止しようとすることにあることからすれば、法二条三号の「父母がともに知れないとき」とは、父母についての手掛かりが全くないわけではないが、その資料が不十分であり、その結果父及び母のいずれについても特定することができない場合を含むものと解するのが相当である。(2) しかし、自己が日本国籍を有することの確認を求める訴訟においては、自己に日本国籍があると主張する者が、国籍取得の根拠となる法規に規定された要件に自己が該当する事実を主張立証しなければならないものであるから、立証責任のある上告人が「父母がともに知れない」ことをうかがわせる事情を立証しても、相手方である被上告人において、「父又は母が知れている」ことをうかがわせる事情を立証し、その結果、一応父又は母と認められる者が存在することがうかがわれるに至ったときは、「父母がともに知れない」ことについての証明がないことになるというべきである。(3) 上告人の出生時の状況からみて、上告人の母がだれであるかは、一応知れないということができるが、被上告人は、上告人の母とE本人とが同一人であることをうかがわせる事情を立証しており、E本人と上告人の母は同一人である蓋然性が高いから、上告人の母が知れないことについて証明されたものとはいい難い。

三 しかしながら、原審の右二の(2)及び(3)の判断は是認することができない。その理由は、次のとおりである。

    1 法は、出生の時に父又は母が日本国民であるとき、又は出生前に死亡した父が死亡の時に日本国民であったときに、その子は日本国民とすることとしているが(二条一号、二号)、日本で生まれた子の父母がともに知れないとき、又は国籍を有しないときも、その子を日本国民とするものとしている(同条三号)。これは、父母の国籍によって子の国籍の取得を認めるという原則を貫くと、右のような子は無国籍となってしまうので、できる限り無国籍者の発生を防止するため、日本で生まれた右のような子に日本国籍の取得を認めたものである。そうすると、 法二条三号にいう「父母がともに知れないとき」とは、父及び母のいずれもが特定されないときをいい、ある者が父又は母である可能性が高くても、これを特定するには至らないときも、右の要件に当たるものと解すべきである。なぜなら、ある者が父又は母である可能性が高いというだけでは、なおその者の国籍を前提として子の国籍を定めることはできず、その者が特定されて初めて、その者の国籍に基づいて子の国籍を決定することができるからである。

    2 法二条三号の「父母がともに知れないとき」という要件に当たる事実が存在することの立証責任は、国籍の取得を主張する者が負うと解するのが相当であるが、出生時の状況等その者の父母に関する諸般の事情により、社会通念上、父及び母がだれであるかを特定することができないと判断される状況にあることを立証すれば、「父母がともに知れない」という要件に当たると一応認定できるものと解すべきである。そして、右1に述べたとおり、ある者が父又は母である可能性は高いが、なおこれを特定するには至らないときも、法二条三号の要件に当たると解すべきであることからすると、国籍の取得を争う者が、反証によって、ある者がその子の父又は母である可能性が高いことをうかがわせる事情が存在することを立証しただけで、その者がその子の父又は母であると特定するには至らない場合には、なお右認定を覆すことはできないものというべきである。

    3 原審の適法に確定した前記事実関係によれば、上告人の母親は、氏名や誕生日を述べてはいたが、それが真実であるかどうかを確認することができるような手掛かりはなく、上告人を出産した数日後に行方不明となったというのであるから、社会通念上、上告人の母がだれであるかを特定することができないような状況にあるものということができる。これに対して、被上告人は、上告人の母とE本人とが同一人である可能性がある事情を立証している。しかし、上告人の母が述べた生年とE本人の生年には五年の開きがあること、入院証書及び「孤児養子縁組並びに移民譲渡証明書」と題する書面に記載された上告人の母の氏名のつづりは、フィリピンにおいて届け出られたE本人の氏名のつづりや、入国記録カードに記載された署名のつづりと異なっていること、E本人が我が国に入国してから上告人の母の入院までには約三年が経過しているにもかかわらず、上告人の母は、片言の英語と身振りのみで意思を伝えていたことなど、上告人の母とE本人との同一性について疑いを抱かせるような事情が存在することも、原審の適法に確定するところである。原審も、右の可能性の程度を超えて、E本人が上告人を出産した母であると特定されるに至ったとまで判断しているわけではない。


四 以上によれば、上告人が日本国籍を取得したことを否定した原審の判断は、法二条三号の解釈適用を誤ったものというべきであり、右違法は判決に影響を及ぼすことが明らかであるから、この点をいう論旨は理由があり、その余の論旨について判断するまでもなく原判決は破棄を免れない。そして、前示説示によれば、これと同趣旨の理由の下に上告人の請求を認容した第一審判決は、正当として是認すべきものであるから、被上告人の控訴を棄却すべきである。


裁判長裁判官  中島 敏次郎
      裁判官  大西 勝 也
      裁判官  根岸 重 治
      裁判官  河合 伸 一

Therefore [this court, by the identical opinion [unanimous agreement] of all the justices, in accordance with the Administrative Case Litigation Law Article 7, and the Civil Matters Litigation Law Article 408, Article 396, Article 384, Article 96, and Article 89, as [stated] in the main text [of this judgment].

Supreme Court Second Petit Court
Presiding Judge
   Justice Nakajima Toshijirō [1925-2011]
   Justice Ōnishi Katsuya [b1928]
   Justice Negishi Shigeharu [b1928]
   Justice Kawai Shin'ichi [b1932]