Filipinos v. State, 2014-2015

Distinction made by Article 12 not unconstitutional

By William Wetherall

First posted 4 April 2015
Last updated 24 August 2015


Overview Origin | 2012 CNJFC petition | Quality of opinions | Sources, presentation, commentary
Judgment Particulars | Findings | Summary | Relevant laws | Main text | Reasons | Justices
Related article Filipinos v. State, 2003-2008: Legitimacy distinction is unconstitutional


Overview of Filipinos v. State, 2010-2015

I am arbitrarily assigning the name "Filipinos" to the 15 male and female appellants in this this Supreme Court case. The ruling describes the appellants as having been born to Japanese national fathers and Republic of the Philippines national mothers, and as having acquired the nationality of the Republic of the Philippines. Apparently they were born in the Philippines, and apparently all were all, at the time of the litigation, legitimate offspring. At the time the Supreme Court's ruling they were reported 7-28 years of age, which implies they were 2-23 years old at the time of the original lawsuit.

Children v. State, 2010-2015

Tokyo District Court, 2010-2012
First instance court (2010-2012)
Filed:     21 July 2010
Court:     Tokyo District Court
Case:      Heisei 22 [2010] (Gyo-U) 38, 45-47, 375, 382-402, 404
Litigants: 27 children v. State
Judgment:  23 March 2012
Ruling:    Article 12 does not violate Constitution
           Recognized 1 case (plaintiff lived in Japan)
           Dismissed 26 cases (plaintiffs lived in the Philippies)

The case originated in 2010 in the Tokyo District Court as a request for confirmation of nationality on the grounds that Article 12 of the Nationality Law violated Article 13 and Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Constitution. The court ruled on 23 March 2012 against the plaintiffs and in favor of the State, namely, that Article 12 of the Nationality Law did not contrevene the Constitution (判例時報 Hanrei jihō No. 2173 page 28, 判例タイムズ Hanrei taimuzu No. 1404 page 106).

Among the 27 plaintiffs, 1 was found to qualify for acquisition of Japanese nationality because the person's parents had taken recognizeable steps to reserve the person's nationality.

Tokyo High Court, 2012-2013
Second instance court (2012-2013)
Court:     Tokyo High Court
Case:      Heisei 24 [2012] (Gyo-Ko) 177
Litigants: Children v State (Children appeal)
Judgment:  22 January 2013 [Heisei 25-01-22]
Ruling:    Dismissed; Article 12 does not violate Constitution

The Tokyo District Court plaintiffs appealed to the Tokyo High Court, which on 22 January 2013 similiary ruled against the appellants (Hanrei taimuzu No. 1404 page 122).

Supreme Court, 2013-2015
Final court of appeal (2013-2015)
Court:     Supreme Court, Third Petit Bench
Case:      Heisei 25 [2013] (Gyo-Tsu) 230
Litigants: Children v. State (Children appeal)
Judgment:  10 March 2015 [Heisei 27-03-10]
Ruling:    Dismissed; Article 12 does not violate Constitution

The Tokyo High Court appellants took their contention that Article 12 of the Nationality Law violated Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Consitution to the Supreme Court, and on 10 March 2015 the Third Petty Bench of the court also ruled that the article was not unconstitutional.

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Origin of case

Nationality through birth is "birthright" nationality if its acquisition results from the automatic operation of the law rather than from permission. A child is considered to be of a certain nationality by virtue of being born under circumstances which qualify it for the nationality -- being born in the country (jus soli), or having a mother and/or father who is a national of the country (jus sanguinis). However, all states have formalities for actualizing the acquisition of their "birthright" nationality -- such as presenting a valid birth certificate (United States), or filing a notification of birth (which includes a valid birth certificate) followed by municipal household registration (Japan).

In Japan, failure to notify the birth of a child who stands to qualify for recognition as Japanese results in the child's birthright nationality not being unconfirmed, hence for practical purposes the child is not Japanese. Even if the child retains a residual right to Japanese nationality, the nationality is not recognized until the child has a household register in a municipality of Japan.

Children born overseas, who stand to become Japanese nationals through birth, also have to be registered for their nationality to be confirmed. Japan's Nationality Law requires that such children who acquire a foreign nationality through birth in a foreign country declare a desire to reserve their presumtive Japanese nationality at the time their births are registered, and the registration and declartion must be done in a timely manner. Failure to do so will result in loss of their presumptive birthright Japanese nationality retroactive to their date of birth.

The 1899 Nationality Law had no no provisions for renunciation and no provisions for nationality reservation if born overseas. Provisions for renunciation were in introduced in 1916 in response to pressure from the United States to allow dual national Japanese in America to singularize their status. The nationality reservation system was introduced in 1924 in response to pressure, again from mainly the United States, to eliminate or minimize the occurence of dual nationality among children born to Japanese immigrant parents.

Article 20-2 in the 1924 revision to the 1899 Nationality Law provided that, if a child who qualified for birthright Japanese nationality was born in a designated right-of-soil country, consisting of the United States and a number of other American hemisphere states, its parents had to declare a desire to reserve the child's Japanese nationality within a period of time stipulated in the Family Registration Law or the child will lose its birthright nationality retroactive to its date of birth.

Article 9 of the 1950 Nationality Law generalized the provisions of Article 20-2 in the older law to require an expression of desire to reserve Japanese nationality on the part of all overseas-born Japanese children who aquire a foreign nationality through birth. Article 9 became Article 12 in the 1984 revisions to the 1950 law that came into effect from 1985. The Supreme Court's 2015 decision confirmed the state's contention that Article 12 did not violate Article 14 in Japan's Constitution.

Article 12 provides that a child born anywhere outside Japan, who presumably qualifies for birthright Japanese nationality, and who acquires a foreign nationality through birth, will lose its presumptive Japanese nationality retroactive the date of its birth if its parents fail to complete formalities in a timely manner. There are no provisions for such statutory loss of Japanese nationality for children born in Japan who acquire a foreign nationality through birth in addition to Japanese nationality.

The formalities consist of filing a notification of birth which includes a declaration of desire to reserve Japanese nationality. Today the notification must be made within 3 months of the child's birth.

Nationality not truly "automatic"

When considering the realities of nationality acquisition, one must bear in mind that Japanese nationality -- indeed no nationality -- is never truly "automatically" acquired. A child is only presumed to be Japanese through automatic application of the law if the circumstances of the child's birth warrant its acquisition of Japanese nationality through birth, whether as a matter of right-of-blood (jus sanguinis) or right-of-soil (jus soli). The former is based on lineal descent from a Japanese parent, meaning anyone who possesses Japan's nationality. The latter is based on birth in Japan.

Since 1985, Japan's Nationality Law has been primarily ambilineal. Until 1985 it was primarily patrilineal and secondarily matrilineal. Since 1899 it has been place-of-birth for children born in Japan to stateless or unknown parents.

The Nationality Law can only operate if officials are aware of a child's birth and the circumstances of its birth. It operates through the Family Registration Law, which requires that births be notificed and their circumstances vetted within a specified period of time after birth.

For trouble-free "automatic operation" of the Nationality Law, a birth must be registered within 14 days if a child is born in Japan, and within 3 months if born abroad. Municipal registrars, and consulate officials, may recognize natural disasters and other reasonable grounds for delay. Late registrations may be referred to a family court for a ruling on whether to permit late registration. Evidence of intent and action are everything. Ignorance of the law is generally not an acceptable excuse.

Purpose of registration

One would think that such short periods of time -- which are constraints of the Family Register Law, not the National Law -- are themselves unreasonable. Why limit the time to notify a birth? What's the rush?

If born in Japan, whether one stands to be recognized as a Japanese or alien, one does not legally exist with registration. And registration begins with filing a notification of birth. If the circumstancs of birth do not warrant acquisition of Japanese nationality, then the child is an alien -- whether of another country, or of no country. If Japanese, then one is entered in a family register -- of one's Japanese parent or parents, or in one's own register born in Japan to stateless or unknown parents. If one is alien, then one acquires a status of residence and is duly registered as an alien.

In Japan, registration is just a matter of going to a local municipal office. In most areas of Japan this will involve only a few minutes by foot, bicycle, bus, or car. In some rural areas it may involve traveling from one to several hours. Filing notifications at consulates overseas can be true ordeal requiring serious travel time and expense -- hence the extension of the period of time in 1985 from 14 days to 3 months.

The 14-day rule has been in effect since early in the Meiji period. The time limit for overseas registration was also 14 days until 1985, when it was extended to 3 months. Again, these are provisions in the Family Registration Law. The Nationality Law does not itself limit the period of time in which someone who stands to acquire Japanese nationality is able to confirm its acquisition.

For children born in Japan, Japanese and aliens alike, there are social and medical benefits in registration. Benefits provided by local governments in Japan are not available overseas.

The object of overseas registration is mainly to confirm the birth of a child who qualifies for Japanese nationality for the purpose of (1) establishing the foreign (Japanese) nationality of the child if born in a country with a primarily right-of-blood nationality law, and (2) establishing, regardless of whether the child acquires the country's nationality through birth, the child's Japanese nationality so the child will be able to obtain a Japanese passport at which time the child is brought to Japan or, when older, wishes to come to Japan on one's own accord.

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2012 Citizens Network for Japanese-Filipino Children (CNJFC) petition

The lawsuits in Filipinos v. State 2010-2015 were organized by Citizens Network for Japanese-Filipino Children (CNJFC), in Tokyo, and litgated by a group of supportive attorneys.

After the ruling handed down by the Tokyo District Court, CNJFC circulated a petition to attach to the appeal it planned to file in the Tokyo High Court. The petition read as follows (pdf file, CNJFC's homepage). The single [bracketed "sic" remark], and the highlighting and boxed comments, are mine.

Date _______________ 2012

To the Judge of the High Court

Petition seeking an unconstitutional decision and the decision confirmed the Japanese nationality of first trial plaintiffs

Recently, cross-border personal exchanges have become day-to-day and every year there are 30,000 cases of international marriages (Population Annual Survey Report of Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry). Children whose parents are Japanese and foreigner are not always born in Japan and a lot of wedlock children are born in foreign countries. Being born in a foreign country is not an exemption [sic = exception] today.

However, according to Article 12 of Nationality Law and Article 104 of Koseki Law, a wedlock Japanese child, who was born out of Japan and acquired a foreign nationality, did not report his birth to the Japan Embassy or Municipal hall in Japan within 3 months after his birth will lose his Japanese nationality.

For 18 years (until December 31st 2011) Citizens Network for Japanese-Filipino Children (CNJFC) has received 341 cases which has wedlock children. Out of 341 cases, 230 children (67.45%) had lost their Japanese nationality. (CNJFC Annual Report, 2011)

The denationalization system is an unusual system that a few people know in Japan. As both of Japanese fathers and Filipino mothers do not know this system and they are not aware of importance to report the birth of their children to Japan Embassy as soon as their children are born in the Philippines, they have lost the Japanese nationality.

Article 12 is not so much a denationalization system as an extension of the domestic nationality confirmation system, which requires registration in order to establish a person's status as a national of Japan. The nationality that is lost under Article 12 is a presumptive nationality which has not yet been confirmed. When an alien applies for permission to naturalize in Japan, the alien acquires Japanese nationality on the day the Minister of Justice announces the grant of permission in Kanpō. But the nationality thus acquired presumes that the newly minted Japanese national files a notification of naturalization with a municipal registrar within 30 days of the date of the announcement. Only then is the acquisition of nationality confirmed by the creation of the ever important family register, which serves as a nationality register.

This points out the main difficulty with the present system -- ignorance of the law on the part of the parents. Such ignorance, though, should be anticipated by law makers, who should make provisions to ensure that at least people who file notifications of marriage at a municipal office or consulate are clearly advised of the importance of timely birth notifications. In Japan, a lot of information concerning birth registration is disseminated at municipal halls, and of course also at hospitals, where a mother who has had a child receives a birth notification form, which includes the birth certificate completed by the doctor who delivered the child. People who may not be aware of the finer points of bureaucratic formalities are likely to be surrounded by people who are and get sufficient advice. The likelihood of getting such advice quickly diminishes when people are isolated overseas. Knowing such things about human nature and ignorance of the law, however, should motivate law makers not to enact laws that are likely to create personal difficulties of the kind experienced by the plaintiffs in this case, among many others.

The children who have lost their Japanese nationality are not registered in their Japanese father's Koseki (family register) although their parents are married. It causes the children to feel that they are denied their existences by their father's country, Japan and their identities are hurt. It is not the children's fault that their birth was not registered to the proper authority. So, it not fair for the children to suffer because of this.

In the case where the children who have lost their Japanese nationality have their addresses in Japan, they can reacquire the Japanese nationality by notification (Article 17-1, Nationality Law). However, it is not easy to do it as there are a lot of legal and economic difficulties in this process. The fact that only 31 children (13.48%) could reacquire the Japanese nationality out of 230 children who have lost the Japanese nationality shows its difficulty.

A total of 27 Japanese-Filipino children who consulted us, CNJFC, filed a complaint to demand the confirmation of Japanese nationality with the Tokyo District Court on July 21th , 2010.

On March 23th, the judge handed down the first sentence. A plaintiff who lives in Japan won the approval of his Japanese nationality, but unfortunately, the other 26 who live in the Philippines were not approved of their Japanese nationality.

This misses, or perhaps intentionally ignores, the purpose of Article 12 -- such as it is -- which is to discourage the possession of birthright Japanese nationality by individuals who are born overseas and do not establish domiciles in Japan. All provisions for acquisition of Japanese nationality by aliens -- whether born in Japan or abroad, including former Japanese who lost their nationality -- require having a domicile in Japan. The object is to minimize the growth of a population of people outside Japan who have no permanent territorial ties with Japan, namely the vested interests that come with being domiciled in Japan, yet possess Japanese nationality in addition to the alien nationality that defines their essential status in another country.

The linking of right-of-blood nationality with a certain amount of physical presence in the country of nationality is familiar in some right-of-soil countries as well. A child born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen, for example, may acquire U.S. nationality through right-of-blood, but the quality of right-of-blood U.S. nationality is different from that the right-of-soil U.S. nationality of a U.S.-born citizen. Foreign-born U.S. citizens must have lived in the United States for a certain number of years in order for their foreign-born children to acquire U.S. nationality through right-of-blood. This is how the United States discourages the perpetuation of its nationality through right-of-blood to people who have no territorial ties with America.

However, as the Article 12 of Japanese Nationality Law deprives the children of their Japanese nationality after their acquisition of Japanese nationality by their birth, it violates the Article 13 of Japanese Constitution which prescribes the security of individual dignity, and also it violates the Article 14-1 of Japanese Constitution which prescribes the equality under the law because;

  1. it discriminates against the children who were born in Japan and in the Philippines,
  2. it discriminates against whether or not the parents declared their intention to reserve the Japanese nationality of their children without any relation to the children's intention, and
  3. it discriminates against whether or not the children who were born out of Japan are wedlock or out of wedlock (if they are legally recognized by their Japanese father, they can acquire the Japanese nationality without any relation to the time's passage).

This is not true. Acquisition of nationality through parental (maternal or paternal) acknowledgement under Article 3 of the Nationality Law, like reacquisition of lost nationality under Article 17, is possible only if the alien is a minor. If 20 years old or older, the person must naturalize.

[APPEAL]
1. We require the judgment to confirm that the plaintiff has the Japanese nationality because the deprivation of the Japanese nationality by the Article 12 of Nationality Law without any relation to the intentions of children themselves violate the Article 13 and 14 of Japanese Constitution, which prescribes the security of individual dignity and the equality under the law.

[ Table of names and addresses, and list of contacts, omitted. ]

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Relevant laws

The relevant laws in what I am calling Filipinos v. State 2010-2015 are as follows. The translation of the Constitution is the official translation. The translation of the Nationality Law is the Ministry of Justice translation. The translation of the Family Register Law is my own structural translation.

憲法   Constitution

第十三条

すべて国民は、個人として尊重される。生命、自由及び幸福追求に対する国民の権利については、公共の福祉に反しない限り、立法その他の国政の上で、最大の尊重を必要とする。

第十四条

すべて国民は、法の下に平等であつて、人種、信条、性別、社会的身分又は門地により、政治的、経済的又は社会的関係において、差別されない。
[他の号は省略]

Article 13

All of the people shall be respected as individuals. Their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness shall, to the extent that it does not interfere with the public welfare, be the supreme consideration in legislation and in other governmental affairs.

Article 14

All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.
[ Other paragraphs omitted ]

[ Official English version. ]

国籍法   Nationalilty Law

第十二条

出生により外国の国籍を取得した日本国民で国外で生まれたものは、戸籍法(昭和二十二年法律第二百二十四号)の定めるところにより日本の国籍を留保する意思を表示しなければ、その出生の時にさかのぼつて日本の国籍を失う。

第十七条

第十二条の規定により日本の国籍を失つた者で二十歳未満のものは、日本に住所を有するときは、法務大臣に届け出ることによつて、日本の国籍を取得することができる。

2  [ 省略 ]

3  前二項の規定による届出をした者は、その届出の時に日本の国籍を取得する。

Article 12

A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No. 224 of 1947).

Article 17

A person who loses Japanese nationality pursuant to the provisions of Article 12 and is under twenty years of age may acquire Japanese nationality, if he/she has a Japanese domicile, through notification to the Minister of Justice.

2. [ Omitted ]

3. The person who has made notification in accordance with the preceding two paragraphs shall acquire Japanese nationality at the time of the notification.

[ Ministry of Justice English version. ]

戸籍法   Family Registration Law

第百四条

国籍法第十二条に規定する国籍の留保の意思の表示は、出生の届出をすることができる者(第五十二条第三項の規定によつて届出をすべき者を除く。)が、出生の日から三箇月以内に、日本の国籍を留保する旨を届け出ることによつて、これをしなければならない。
  2  前項の届出は、出生の届出とともにこれをしなければならない。
  3  天災その他第一項に規定する者の責めに帰することができない事由によつて同項の期間内に届出をすることができないときは、その期間は、届出をすることができるに至つた時から十四日とする。

Article 104

As for indicating one's volition to reserve [the] nationality [of Japan] as stipulated in Article 12 of the Nationality Law, a person who is able to submit a notification of birth (excluding a person who should submit a notification pursuant to the stipulations of Article 52, paragraph 3 [of the Family Registration Law], must do this within three months from the date of birth, by notifying [one's] aim of reserving the nationality of Japan.
  2  As for the notification in the preceding paragraph, [the person making it] must submit it together with the notification of birth.
  3  When the person stipuated in paragraph 1 is unable to submit a notification within the period [stipulated] in the same paragraph due to a natural disaster or other grounds not attributable to the responsibility of the person, that period shall be 14 days from the time when it has become possible to submit a notification.

[ My structural English translation since
Japanese Law Translation project version is horrible. ]

Together with birth notification

The fact that the notification of intent to reserve Japanese nationality is made at the time the notification of birth is filed is extremely important. Filing a birth notification is the primary act of confirming a child's legal existance. A child's nationality cannot be determined until the child is known to exist. The declaration of desire to reserve nationality is made on the birth notification. In other words, a reservation of nationality cannot be declared without also confirming that the child is in fact Japanese -- which requires filing a notification of birth that is vetted and accepted as grounds for recognizing that a child is Japanese.

with 14 days from day when possible

This is a very interesting vestiage of the original 14-day rule that has always applied to birth registration within Japan, and applied also to birth registration abroad before the change to 3 months in 1985.

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Quality of opinion

I do not especially like the Supreme Court's 10 March 2015 decision in what I am calling Filipinos v. State 2010-2015.

I have always thought the fuss about dual nationality to be exaggerated, since it is easy enough to legally ensure that dual nationals don't abuse their statuses. I have also always felt that the rules for nationality acquisition should favor the need of children born into families of parents of different nationality to be able to possess the nationalities of both of their parents at least until they are well into their 20s if not permanently.

At the same time, I understand the decision from the point of view of the history of the Nationality Law, which carries the momentum of yesteryear's concerns about dual nationality in the case of children born outside Japan, imposed first by the United States in 1916, and again in 1924. The 1899 Nationality Law was revised in 1916 to permit Japanese dual nationals to renounce their Japanese nationality. Article 20-2 in the 1924 revision required that the parents of Japanese born overseas in designated American hemisphere countries, beginning with the United States, express an intent that their child retain the nationality of Japan or lose it retroactive to the time of its birth.

Article 20-2 in the 1924 revision of the 1899 Nationality Law was generalized in Article 9 of the 1950 Nationality Law to require an expression of desire to retain or reserve Japanese nationality on the part of all overseas-born Japanese children who aquire a foreign nationality through birth. Article 9 became Article 12 in revisions to the 1950 law that came into effect from 1985. The Supreme Court's 2015 decision confirmed the state's contention that Article 12 did not violate Article 14 in Japan's Constitution.

The practice of law everywhere is essentially conservative in that lawyers and judges are trained to interpret and work with the laws as law makers have made them, mindful of the legacies of intent and interpretation that come with existing laws.

Upholding national laws as constitutional, or avoiding constitutional judgments, is expected of Japanese courts. Rulings of unconstitutionality are rare and hence surprising.

Courts in Japan prefer to avoid judgments that fault laws passed by the Diet, which are mostly the work of legal bureaucrats who are themselves trained to be legally conservative -- i.e., respectful of the status quo and its claims to rationality. Those who would change the status quo, whether a law maker who revise a standing law, or an attorney who might argue in court that a standing law is unconstitutional, have to convince other law makers, and judges, that the present law is irrational. And they have tp argue in legal, not moral, terms.

Four possibilities

Civil registers and state and municipal affiliation in Japan
Born in right-of-blood state
E.g. Japan, the Philippines
Born in right-of-soil state
E.g. United States, Tanzania
RESUME

including attorneys who would argue in court that a given law is unconstitutional, The burden on those who change the status quo is to provepurposes of legal traditions and precedents, in favor of judgments that find fault in the legislative process, and . . -- are not trained to be morally concerned about for whose benefit laws ought to be made and work. . in terms of how they ought to be made and work. advocates of legal reform. Legislation -- law making and remaking -- are the responsibilities of the Diet. Government agencies upold the laws as they understand them. Courts mediate in disputes and determine which side, if either, is legally right. They may also be involved in The courts are supposed to are the legislative .to practically everyone born in the country. attributes its nationality through birth within the country through primarily jus soli (right of soil, place of birth). overseas in countries with primarily place-of-birth . The justices could have thrown their weight toward the argument that differentiating children who are born in another country, and passively acquire the country's nationality through birth, from children born in Japan nationality of the country acquire the nationality of the country in which they are born through birth in the country, of Japanese, who acquire the nationality of the foreign nationality through birth in the foriegn country forwhose child is born overseas in a right-of-soil state is not justifiable. If there birthright Japanese nationality is to be lost retroactively on account of failure to formally reserve Japanese nationality, then it should be lost by every child born overseas whose birth remains unregistered in Japan.

The problem is, though, that children born in right-of-soil states would have a nationality, even if they lost Japanese nationality, whereas those born in right-of-blood states would become stateless if they lost Japanese nationality.

The only way to avoid this dilemna -- and treat both kinds of children equally -- is to give up the concern about the possibly higher incidence of dual nationality among children born overseas in right-of-soil states.

RESUME

The opinion is legally expected. A child born outside Japan to a Japanese parent or parents residing overseas are presumed to be domiciled overseas unless the child's parent(s), as the child's legal guardian(s) and representative(s), indicate -- by making a timely notification to a competent Japanese government legation overseas, usually a Japanese consulate, the volition (will, wish) of the child to reserve their birthright Japanese nationality.

Such a declaration can be made only after the parent's or parents' claim that the child is a Japanese national is confirmed by vetting the circumstances of birth as recorded on a birth notification, which includes a birth certificate and particulars on the child's biological parents, including their civil status (residence or domicile and nationality). Hence Article 12 requires that the notification of desire to reserve nationality be made together with the birth notification.

Failure to register a child's birth at a competent Japanese office is viewed as tantamount to abandoning the birthright Japanese nationality of a child who, if the child's birth were registered, would be found to qualify for birthright nationality.

Children born overseas in right-of-blood states to parents who are not nationals of the state, who fail to acquire the nationality of either of their parents, stands to be stateless. Children born in Japan to parents who fail to register the child's birth do not legally exist in the eyes of Japanese law, and are thus in a legal twilight zone in which they cannot even be said to be stateless. The question of their nationality can arise and be resolved only at which time their existence is known, which requires a notification of birth.

Children born outside Japan in a right-of-soil state generally become nationals of that state, and Japan's Nationality Law presumes that their parents have a greater responsibility to clarify their intentions regarding their child's presumptive right to Japanese nationality. It is a "presumptive right" because it is only presumed to exist pending notification of birth and vetting of the circumstances of birth.

The entire history of the provision of reservation of nationality is itself irrational from the viewpoint that dual nationality shouldn't matter. But once given the historical and continuing reluctance to positively embrace dual nationality, practically all states are motivated to minimize its occurrence. And this is the intent of the provisions in Japan's Nationality Law and the Family Registration Law.

The Supreme Court is generally comfortable with decisions that are argued from a strictly legal -- not moral or ethical -- point of view. The justices will say if you press them -- and some say in their judgments -- that its up to the Diet, as the legislative power in Japan, to decide whether -- among those who stand to become multiple nationals, whether born in Japan or abroad, should be treated differently on account of their presumed residence at the time of their birth. If the Japanese parent or parent plans to return to Japan, or otherwise wants the child to have the same nationality-accorded right-of-abode in Japan, then let them make their intentions known in a timely matter.

The practical problem, of course, is that the requirement for filing a notification of birth overseas applies to all children born overseas to a Japanese parent or parents. And I have seen no evidence that the Japanese parents of children born in right-of-blood foreign states are more knowledgeable about the law or less attendant to bureaucratic requirements than the Japanese parents of children born in right-of-soil foreign states.

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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.

Structural English translation

The structural translations of highlighted parts of the received ruling are mine.

Formatting, markup, and commentary

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 and all (parentheses) in the received text are as received.

All remarks in [square brackets] and <angle brackets>, and all highlighting and boxed comments, are are mine.

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Judgment

The Supreme Court's judgment in Filipinos v. State 2010-2015 runs only 4 pages in the received pdf file from which I extracted the following Japanese text.

2015 Supreme Court judgment in Filipinos v. State
Japanese text, English translations of selected parts, and commentary

事件番号:平成25年(行ツ)第230号

事件名:国籍確認請求事件

裁判年月日:平成27年3月10日

法廷名:最高裁判所第三小法廷

裁判種別:判決

結果:上告棄却

判例集等巻・号・頁:
民集 第69巻2号265頁

原審裁判所名:東京高等裁判所

原審事件番号:平成24(行コ)177

原審裁判年月日:平成25年1月22日

Case number: Heisei 25 [2013] (Gyo-Tsu) 230

Case name: Nationality confirmation request case

Date of judgment: 10 March 2015 [Heisei 27-03-10]

Court name: Supreme Court, Third Petit Bench

Type of judgment: Ruling

Results: Appeal dismissed

Hanreishū [Court Reports] Volume, Number, Page:
Minshū [Civil Affairs decisions] Volume 69, Number 2, Page 265

Original court name: Tokyo High Court

Original case number: Heisei 24 [2012] (Gyo-Ko) 177

Date of original judgment: 22 January 2013 [Heisei 25-01-22]

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判示事項 Findings
Japanese text Structural English translation

国籍法12条と憲法14条1項

Article 12 of Nationality Law and Article 14, Paragraph 1 of Constitution

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

国籍法12条は,憲法14条1項に違反しない。

Article 12 of Nationality Law does not infringe on [violate, contravene] Article 14, Paragraph 1 of Constitution.

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参照法条 Relevant laws
Japanese text Structural English translation

憲法14条1項,国籍法12条,国籍法17条1項,国籍法17条3項,戸籍法104条

Constitition, Article 14 Paragraph 1; Nationality Law, Article 12; Nationality Law, Article 17 Paragraph 1; Nationality Law, Article 17 Paragraph 3; Family Registration Law, Article 104

See Relevant laws above for Japanese texts and English versions.

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主文 Main text of the judgment
Japanese text Received English translation

本件上告を棄却する。

上告費用は上告人らの負担とする。

The appeal in this case is dismissed.

The cost of the appeal shall be born by the appellants.

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理由 Reasons

第1  事案の概要

本件は,日本国籍を有する父とフィリピン共和国籍を有する母との間に嫡出子として同国で出生し同国籍を取得した上告人らが,出生後3か月以内に父母等により日本国籍を留保する意思表示がされず,国籍法12条の規定によりその出生の時から日本国籍を有しないこととなったため,出生により日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子で国外で出生したものにつき上記の国籍留保の要件等を定める同条の規定が上記子のうち日本で出生した者等との区別において憲法14条1項等に違反し無効であると主張して日本国籍を有することの確認を求めている事案である。

1. Summary of the facts

As for this case, the facts are that the appellants, who were born between fathers who possess the Japan[ese] nationality and mothers who possess Republic of the Philippines nationality and acquired the nationality of the same country [Republic of the Philippines] -- on account of not having their volition [will, wish] to reserve Japan[ese] nationality indicated by [their] father or mother inter alia [or another qualified notifier] within 3 months of their birth, pursuant to Article 12 of the Nationality Law came not to possess Japan[ese] nationality from the time of their birth -- are seeking confirmation that they possess Japan[ese] nationality, asserting that the provision of the same article, which stipulates the requirement inter alia of the above nationality reservation regarding those who are born outside the country and through birth become [of] multiple nationality with Japan[ese] nationality -- in the distinction [the article engenders] among the above children with those born in Japan -- is contrary to Article 14, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution and [therefore] is invalid.

第2  上告代理人近藤博徳ほかの上告理由第3,第4及び第6について

1憲法10条は,「日本国民たる要件は,法律でこれを定める。」と規定し,これを受けて,国籍法は,日本国籍の得喪に関する要件を規定している。憲法10条の規定は,国籍は国家の構成員としての資格であり,国籍の得喪に関する要件を定めるに当たってはそれぞれの国の歴史的事情,伝統,政治的,社会的及び経済的環境等,種々の要因を考慮する必要があることから,これをどのように定めるかについて,立法府の裁量判断に委ねる趣旨のものであると解される。そして,憲法14条1項が法の下の平等を定めているのは,合理的理由のない差別を禁止する趣旨のものであって,法的取扱いにおける区別が合理的な根拠に基づくものである限り,同項に違反するものではないから,上記のようにして定められた日本国籍の取得に関する法律の要件によって生じた区別につき,そのような区別をすることの立法目的に合理的な根拠があり,かつ,その区別の具体的内容が上記の立法目的との関連において不合理なものではなく,立法府の合理的な裁量判断の範囲を超えるものではないと認められる場合には,当該区別は,合理的理由のない差別に当たるとはいえず,憲法14条1項に違反するということはできないものと解するのが相当である(最高裁昭和37年(オ)第1472号同39年5月27日大法廷判決・民集18巻4号676頁,最高裁平成10年(オ)第2190号同14年11月22日第二小法廷判決・裁判集民事208号495頁,最高裁平成18年(行ツ)第135号同20年6月4日大法廷判決・民集62巻6号1367頁参照)。

2(1)国籍法12条は,出生により外国の国籍を取得するとともに同法2条1号又は2号によれば出生時に日本国籍を取得して重国籍となるべき子のうち国外で出生した者について,日本で出生した者と異なり,戸籍法104条の定めに従って出生の届出をすべき父母等により出生の日から3か月以内に日本国籍を留保する意思表示がその旨の届出によりされなければ(天災等の事由があれば上記の届出期間は伸張される。),その出生時から日本国籍を有しないものとすることを定め,その生来的な取得を認めないという区別を設けることとしたものである。また,国籍法17条1項及び3項は,同法12条により日本国籍を有しないものとされた者で20歳未満のものについて,日本に住所を有するときは,法務大臣に届け出ることによって,その届出時に日本国籍を取得することができることを定めている。

(2)日本国籍の生来的な取得につき,国籍法2条1号及び2号は,子の出生時において日本国籍を有する父又は母との間に法律上の親子関係があることをもって,一般的にみて我が国との密接な結び付きがあるものといえるとして,当該子に国籍を付与しようとするものと解される。しかるところ,国籍法は,上記各号の規律を前提とした上で,前記のように国外で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子に関して,例えば,その生活の基盤が永続的に外国に置かれることになるなど,必ずしも我が国との密接な結び付きがあるとはいえない場合があり得ることを踏まえ,実体を伴わない形骸化した日本国籍の発生をできる限り防止するとともに,内国秩序等の観点からの弊害が指摘されている重国籍の発生をできる限り回避することを目的として,12条において,日本国籍の生来的な取得の要件等につき,日本で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子との間に上記 (1)のような区別を設けることとしたものと解され,このような同条の立法目的には合理的な根拠があるものということができる。

そして,国籍法12条が,上記の立法目的に基づき,国外で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子に関して,日本で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子との間に上記(1)のような区別を設けていることについても,生来的な国籍の取得の有無は子の法的地位の安定の観点からできる限り子の出生時に確定的に決定されることが望ましいところ,出生の届出をすべき父母等による国籍留保の意思表示をもって当該子に係る我が国との密接な結び付きの徴表とみることができる上,その意思表示は原則として子の出生の日から3か月の期間内に出生の届出とともにするものとされるなど,父母等によるその意思表示の方法や期間にも配慮がされていることに加え,上記の期間内にその意思表示がされなかった場合でも,同法17条1項及び3項において,日本に住所があれば20歳に達するまで法務大臣に対する届出により日本国籍を取得することができるものとされていることをも併せ考慮すれば,上記の区別の具体的内容は,前記の立法目的との関連において不合理なものとはいえず,立法府の合理的な裁量判断の範囲を超えるものということはできない。

したがって,国籍法12条において,出生により日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子のうち,国外で出生した者について日本で出生した者との間に設けられた上記の区別は,合理的理由のない差別には当たらないというべきである。

なお,所論のうち,出生以外の事由による日本国籍の取得の要件等を定める他の制度との権衡について論難する点に関しては,出生による日本国籍の生来的な取得の要件等を定める国籍法12条とは制度の目的及び趣旨を異にする事柄に係るものであって,上記の判断を左右するものではない。

3以上によれば,国籍法12条は,憲法14条1項に違反するものではない。 このように解すべきことは,当裁判所大法廷の判例(前掲最高裁昭和39年5月27日大法廷判決)の趣旨に徴して明らかというべきである。これと同旨の原審の判断は,正当として是認することができ,論旨は採用することができない。

2. Concerning appeal reasons 3, 4, and 6 of Kondō Hironori and other appeal representatives

1  憲法10条は,「日本国民たる要件は,法律でこれを定める。」と規定し,これを受けて,国籍法は,日本国籍の得喪に関する要件を規定している。憲法10条の規定は,国籍は国家の構成員としての資格であり,国籍の得喪に関する要件を定めるに当たってはそれぞれの国の歴史的事情,伝統,政治的,社会的及び経済的環境等,種々の要因を考慮する必要があることから,これをどのように定めるかについて,立法府の裁量判断に委ねる趣旨のものであると解される。そして,憲法14条1項が法の下の平等を定めているのは,合理的理由のない差別を禁止する趣旨のものであって,法的取扱いにおける区別が合理的な根拠に基づくものである限り,同項に違反するものではないから,上記のようにして定められた日本国籍の取得に関する法律の要件によって生じた区別につき,そのような区別をすることの立法目的に合理的な根拠があり,かつ,その区別の具体的内容が上記の立法目的との関連において不合理なものではなく,立法府の合理的な裁量判断の範囲を超えるものではないと認められる場合には,当該区別は,合理的理由のない差別に当たるとはいえず,憲法14条1項に違反するということはできないものと解するのが相当である(最高裁昭和37年(オ)第1472号同39年5月27日大法廷判決・民集18巻4号676頁,最高裁平成10年(オ)第2190号同14年11月22日第二小法廷判決・裁判集民事208号495頁,最高裁平成18年(行ツ)第135号同20年6月4日大法廷判決・民集62巻6号1367頁参照)。

2(1)  国籍法12条は,出生により外国の国籍を取得するとともに同法2条1号又は2号によれば出生時に日本国籍を取得して重国籍となるべき子のうち国外で出生した者について,日本で出生した者と異なり,戸籍法104条の定めに従って出生の届出をすべき父母等により出生の日から3か月以内に日本国籍を留保する意思表示がその旨の届出によりされなければ(天災等の事由があれば上記の届出期間は伸張される。),その出生時から日本国籍を有しないものとすることを定め,その生来的な取得を認めないという区別を設けることとしたものである。また,国籍法17条1項及び3項は,同法12条により日本国籍を有しないものとされた者で20歳未満のものについて,日本に住所を有するときは,法務大臣に届け出ることによって,その届出時に日本国籍を取得することができることを定めている。

(2)  日本国籍の生来的な取得につき,国籍法2条1号及び2号は,子の出生時において日本国籍を有する父又は母との間に法律上の親子関係があることをもって,一般的にみて我が国との密接な結び付きがあるものといえるとして,当該子に国籍を付与しようとするものと解される。しかるところ,国籍法は,上記各号の規律を前提とした上で,前記のように国外で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子に関して,例えば,その生活の基盤が永続的に外国に置かれることになるなど,必ずしも我が国との密接な結び付きがあるとはいえない場合があり得ることを踏まえ,実体を伴わない形骸化した日本国籍の発生をできる限り防止するとともに,内国秩序等の観点からの弊害が指摘されている重国籍の発生をできる限り回避することを目的として,12条において,日本国籍の生来的な取得の要件等につき,日本で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子との間に上記 (1)のような区別を設けることとしたものと解され,このような同条の立法目的には合理的な根拠があるものということができる。

そして,国籍法12条が,上記の立法目的に基づき,国外で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子に関して,日本で出生して日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子との間に上記(1)のような区別を設けていることについても,生来的な国籍の取得の有無は子の法的地位の安定の観点からできる限り子の出生時に確定的に決定されることが望ましいところ,出生の届出をすべき父母等による国籍留保の意思表示をもって当該子に係る我が国との密接な結び付きの徴表とみることができる上,その意思表示は原則として子の出生の日から3か月の期間内に出生の届出とともにするものとされるなど,父母等によるその意思表示の方法や期間にも配慮がされていることに加え,上記の期間内にその意思表示がされなかった場合でも,同法17条1項及び3項において,日本に住所があれば20歳に達するまで法務大臣に対する届出により日本国籍を取得することができるものとされていることをも併せ考慮すれば,上記の区別の具体的内容は,前記の立法目的との関連において不合理なものとはいえず,立法府の合理的な裁量判断の範囲を超えるものということはできない。

したがって,国籍法12条において,出生により日本国籍との重国籍となるべき子のうち,国外で出生した者について日本で出生した者との間に設けられた上記の区別は,合理的理由のない差別には当たらないというべきである。

Consequently, it is to be said that, in Article 12 of the Nationality Law, the above distinction -- made among children who through birth become [of] mutlilationality with Japan[ese] nationality, regarding those born outside the country, between those born in Japan -- does not correspond to discrimination that has no rational reason.

なお,所論のうち,出生以外の事由による日本国籍の取得の要件等を定める他の制度との権衡について論難する点に関しては,出生による日本国籍の生来的な取得の要件等を定める国籍法12条とは制度の目的及び趣旨を異にする事柄に係るものであって,上記の判断を左右するものではない。

3  以上によれば,国籍法12条は,憲法14条1項に違反するものではない。 このように解すべきことは,当裁判所大法廷の判例(前掲最高裁昭和39年5月27日大法廷判決)の趣旨に徴して明らかというべきである。これと同旨の原審の判断は,正当として是認することができ,論旨は採用することができない。

第3  その余の上告理由について

論旨は,違憲をいうが,その実質は単なる法令違反をいうもの又はその前提を欠くものであって,民訴法312条1項及び2項に規定する事由のいずれにも該当しない。

よって,裁判官全員一致の意見で,主文のとおり判決する。

3. Concerning the other reasons for the appeal

As for the purport of the argument, it says that [Article 12] is unconstitutional, but its substance is only something that says [Article 12] is a violation of law and something that lacks the premise [for saying this], does not apply to [fall within] any of the reasons stipulated in Paragraph 1 and Paragraph 2 of Article 312 of the Law [Code] of Civil Procedure.

Therefore, in the opinion of all justices [on this bench], [we] rule as in the main judgment.

Article 312 of the Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法, Law No. 109 of 1996, promulgated on 26 June 1996) concerns "Reasons for final appeal" (上告の理由). The article is part of "Chapter 2 Final appeal" (第二章 上告) in "Part 3 Appeal" (第三編 上訴) of the law.

Paragraph 1 states that "A final appeal can be made then the reason is that there were errors of interpretation of the Constitution or other violations of the Constitution in the [lower court] judgment (上告は、判決に憲法の解釈の誤りがあることその他憲法の違反があることを理由とするときに、することができる).

Paragraph 2 provides that a final appeal can also be made if the court did not construcct [set up, compose, form] the judgment [rendering] court in accordance with the law (法律に従って判決裁判所を構成しなかったこと), or if a justice who was not pursant to the law able to participate [be involved] in the judgment particpated in the judgment (法律により判決に関与することができない裁判官が判決に関与したこと), among other reasons embedded in other article in the code.

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Justices
Japanese text English translation
最高裁判所第三小法廷判決
裁判長裁判官
          大谷剛彦
  裁判官  岡部喜代子
  裁判官  大橋正春
  裁判官  木内道祥
  裁判官  山崎敏充
Supreme Court, Third Petit Bench
Presiding Judge Justice ŌTANI Takehiko
                Justice OKABE Kiyoko
                Justice ŌHASHI Masaharu
                Justice KIUCHI Michiyoshi 
                Justice YAMASAKI Toshimitsu

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