Naturalization under the 1950 Nationality Law

Closing the gap between social and national experience and identity

By William Wetherall

First posted 16 March 2006
Last updated 3 July 2013

Naturalization in Japan, 1950-2013 Terminology 1950 Nationality Law | | |
Table 1: Naturalization in Japan, 1950-2013The demographics of interest in becoming Japanese
Table 2: Family ties of naturalizers in Japan, 1952-1962Nationality unification mixed-nationality families

Naturalization in Japan, 1950-2013

This article constitutes an overview of naturalization trends in Japan following the enforcement of the 1950 Nationality Law. Appended at the end are two tables. One shows naturalization and related statistics in Japan from 1950 to date by nationality. The other shows breakdowns of naturalization figures for 1952-1962 by former or present ties to a "Japanese" person defined as a member of a prefectural family register.



The Ministry of Justice has reported the number of applicants who have been approved each year in three groups: Chosen (Korea) or Kankoku/Chosen (Korea), Chugoku (China), and Others.

For definitions of and commentary on these and other alien alliliations, see "Kankoku/Chosen" and "Chugoku".



Naturalization in 1899 and 1950 laws

Naturalization as a legal process in Japan's nationality law has been possible since 1899, when the country's first Nationality Law was promulgated. Since 1873, it was possibile for aliens to became Japanese through permission -- granted the head of a register-defined household affiliated with Japan's sovereign territory -- to enter the household as a husband, wife, or child of a member of the family. Before this, national affiliation was not defined as such, but to the extent one was considered affiliated with "Japan" as territory, affilation -- as it remains today -- was essentially a matter of being registered as a member of a local household.

See Becoming Japanese in the Meiji period and Allegiance change in Yamato for more about practices before the introduction of "naturalization" in 1899.

Anti-subversive provision in 1950 law

Naturalization rules in the 1899 Nationality Law remain largely the same in the present 1950 Nationality Law. The rules generally compare to rules in most other countries.

The most notable change in 1950 was a provision that allowed the Minister of Justice to refuse to permit naturalization on grounds of subversive beliefs or acts (Article 4 in 1950 laws as enacted, Article 5 in 1985 and later revisions). This inclusion of this provision codified concerns about the spread of revolutionary communism during the years immediately after World War II, but it also reflected Japan's prewar and war-time attitudes toward the sort of anti-state socialism and communism that had been spreading in greater East Asia, and in Japan, during the first half of the 19th century.

The anti-subversive constraint in the 1950 naturalization rules probably had little effect on dampening enthusiasim for naturalization. Japan's largest status minorities in Japan at the time were Koreans whose status under Japanese law was that of a Japanese national treated as an alien for certain purposes. These Koreans, along with Formosans, lost their Japanese nationality from 28 April 1952, when Korea (Chosen) and Formosa (Taiwan) were fully separated from Japan by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which came into effect on this day.

Over 95 percent of the roughly 600,000 or so Koreans in Japan at the time had register addresses south of the 38th parallel on the Korean Peninsula, within the territory that was under the control of the Republic of Korea (ROK), which claimed the entire peninsula. Fewer than 5 percent had addresses north of the 38th parallel, under the control of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a communist state.

Yet it appeared to some Japanese government and GHQ/SCAP officials in Occupied Japan that about half of all Koreans in Japan supported Kim Il Sung, or were otherwise aligned with DPRK. However, not all Koreans in Japan were divided by the 38th parallel, and among those who nominally supported either ROK or DPRK, the quality of their support not uniform.

Koreans in Japan included children too young to have political beliefs, adults interested only in a unified Korea or in the well-being of relatives on the peninsula, and adults concerned only about their life in Japan. Even the more zealous supporters of Kim Il Sung or Syngman Rhee were likely to be ambivalent when it came to where they would choose to live in the real world, as opposed to the utopias promised by ideologues.

In any event, when Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945, most adult Koreans, everywhere in the world, appear to have celebrated Korea's "liberation" from Japan. Most in Occupied Japan also seem to have relished in being declared along with Formosans and some others, by Occupation Authorities, to be "Non-Japanese" for repatriation and later other purposes. Most Koreans in Japan -- whether supporters of ROK or DPRK or "Korea" as a unified country or nothing -- also seem to have seen their formal loss of Japanese nationality in 1952 as a blessing, since they considered it as something which had been forced on them.

Which is not to say that some Koreans in Japan did not wish to have remained Japanese. Nor this to say that other Koreans were not anxious about their new status as aliens -- for their alien status was still linked, under Japanese law, with their affiliation with "Korea" meaning "Chosen" as a former Japanese territory. In other words, "Koreans" in Japan remained unliberated from the ideological division of the Korean peninsula and recognition politics.



Naturalization trends from 1952

There was some naturalization under both the 1899 and 1950 nationality laws during the Occupation of Japan, but not of Taiwanese or Koreans, who were not cateogrical aliens but Japanese nationals. Naturalization became possible only when they became aliens from 28 April 1952, from which time applications and permits steadily rise, though momentary peaks for numerous reasons.


Practically all of the "Chinese" population in Japan as of 28 April 1952 were nationals of the Republic of China (ROC). About half had addresses in Taiwan, which had been part of Japan, and the others had addresses in the provinces then under the control of the People's Republic of China.

Significant changes are seen in Chinese naturalization related to the Japan's switch of recognition from ROC to PRC in 1972, as ROC nationality would no longer be recognized. This did not affect the alien statuses of residence of ROC nationals in Japan, but it would effect the legalities of personal nationality changes, as ROC would no longer have missions in Japan through which to process renunciations. Hence there was a rush of naturalization applications to Japan and renunciation of ROC nationality leading up to the Joint Communique PRC-Japan signed in Beijing on 29 September 1972, in which Japan recognized PRC instead of ROC.


The number of Korean naturalizations also steady increased, slightly accelerating in the early 1990s, leveling off from 1995, then peaking in 2003, since which it has sharply fallen. The vicissitudes are due mostly to combinations of changes in two populations -- one the original population that remained in Occupied Japan after World War II and descendants -- the other the population of ROK nationals migrating to Japan from the late 1980s or so.


The out-marriage rate of Koreans in Japan -- defined as the percent of Koreans who marry non-Koreans of all Koreans who marry -- has been above 20 percent since 1964, 30 percent since 1972, 40 percent since 1980, 50 percent since 1984, 60 percent since 1987, 70 percent percent since 1990, then eased up to over 80 in 2001. after which it leveled off at around 82 or 83 percent.

The out-marriage rate defined as the percent of marriages in which one spouse spouse is non-Korean has exceeded 50 percent since 1974, 70 percent since 1985, and 90 percent since 2005.

From 1985, practically all children of Korean-Japanese marriages stood to be registered as Japanese. From this point, natural increase of the Korean population sharply falls, and aging takes its toll in death.

The Korean population begins to steadily drop after peaking in 1991. The population of ROK migrants, which had been increasing, continues to increase, but the increase is offset by the rapid fall of the postwar population.

Korean naturalization from 1952-1962

The percents of Koreans and Chinese born in Japan, Korean, Taiwan, and Mainland changed between 1959 and 1974 as follows.

Places of birth of Koreans and Chinese in Japan

        Koreans        Chinese
        Japan  Korea   Japan   Taiwan Mainland

1959    64.2   35.4     63.1   19.0   17.9 
1964    68.4   31.3     61.2   22.0   16.8 
1969    72.5   27.3     59.2   24.9   15.9 
1974    75.6   24.1     51.1   25.8   23.1 

Source: MOJ publications, my percents.
        See "Born in Japan" for full report.

In 2001, the out-marriage rate of Koreans in Japan passes the 80 percent mark.

Decline in Korean naturalization rates

The number of aliens permitted to naturalize from a Kankoku/Chosen alien status has sharply fallen since its peak in 2003.

2003	11,778 (peak) 
2004	11,031
2005	 9,689
2006	 8,531
2007	 8,546
2008	 7,412
2009	 7,637

The fall-off in Korean naturalizations also reflects the above population dynamics, but changes the conditions of the postwar population are probably the most significant. The vast majority of the postwar-defined Korean population are Special Permanent Residents. Koreans who came to Japan from the Republic of Korea, or elsewhere, do not qualify for this status., including (1) the rapid decline in the number of postwar Koreans in Japan, for whom naturalization requirements are most relaxed; and (2) the convergence of treatment of Special Permanent Residents ( in the reflecting a rapid decrease in the postwar population reflecting the fact that the postwar population has been dropping dating from the late 1980s the Today, Chinese nationals outnumber Korean nationals, but the Chinese national population is younger and not nearly as settled as the Korean populatio The population of Koreans who desire to naturalize appears to have rapidly decreased. Naturalizers from Kan/Cho status include both SPR Koreans and other Koreans. The natural increase of Kan/Cho Koreans dropped in 1985 and has been increasingly negative since 1993. The population of SPRs is rapidly aging,, and because most naturalizers are in their 20s and 30s (see Asakawafs data below), I think that SPRs are now mostly older people who are determined to keep their Korean status. ROK migrants who have settled in greater numbers since the 1980s are probably more likely to become general permanent residents (which are still increasing among Kan/Cho Koreans). But the rate of migration from ROK also appears to be leveling off, hence the population of non-SPR Kan/Cho Koreans who will become qualified for either general perm res or for naturalization will also level off.

Koreans in Japan

Significant shifts are seen related to Japan's shift of recognition , appear to -- appear to be slightly more apt to naturalize than Koreans,

1960   Figures for naturalizations permitted, and applications, peak this year for all three categories -- Chosen, Chugoku, and Others. This is just a momentary peak in an otherwise generally rising rate of naturalization in all three categorires. The peak most likely reflects a combination of foward moving earlier postwar waves or "booms" in demographic events, such as (1) marriages between Japanese and aliens (alien spouse naturalizes), (2) births of children of married Japanese woman and alien fathers (children naturalize with father), and (3) marriages of and births of children to aliens (all members of family naturalize), and (4) coming of age of alien children (naturalizations of such aliens).

CORRECTION OF NANTAIS 2014 Japan's Korean population in 2012 was 530,046. Of these, only 377,350 were members of the legacy generation that lost Japanese nationality in 1952 and its descendants. The others were Koreans who came later, mostly since the 1980s. The combined legacy and recent populations peaked at 693,050 in 1991. Practically all of the legacy population are ROK nationals, like the newer population. North Korea supporters are thought to number only a few thousand. As of 2012, some 345,774 Koreans had become Japanese through naturalization since 1952. Most of these Japanese are thought to have been from the legacy Korean population. Intermarriage rates are from 80 to 90 percent. Most of the legacy population was born in Japan and appears to be mixed. In the meantime, ambilineal nationality laws in Japan since 1985 and ROK since 2000 mean that dual nationality among younger people -- which goes unregistered in nationality statistics -- is increasing. The total Korean population grew by 14,424 births in 1955 but by only about 1,200 in 2012. There is now practically no natural growth among the legacy population, which has been rapidly decreasing through death and naturalization. Some Koreans in the legacy generation and their descendants, even those of part Japanese ancestry, would rather die than be Japanese nationals. Yet more Japanese who were once Koreans, or who have Koreans in their family trees, are acknowledging their Korean ancestry. This trend predates the Occupation of Japan, but most Koreans in Occupied Japan, and Japanese and SCAP officials, did not anticipate the sort of blending that came later.




Though alien registration statistics begin from 1947, figures on naturalization begin from 1952. The reason for this gap has to do with a lack of clarity in the legal status of former imperial subjects in Japan whose family registers were in Taiwan (part of ROC since 1945) or Chosen (Korea, claimed by both ROK and DPRK since 1948).

Technically, the Empire of Japan lost Taiwan and Chosen as territories, and Karafuto as a prefecture, the moment it accepted the terms of surrender set down in the Potsdam Agreement of 26 July 1945 by United States (Harry S. Truman), Great Britain (Winston Churchill), and the Republic of China (Chiang Kai-Shek).

That states were seen as racial entities is clear in Paragraph 10 of the Potsdam Agreement, which begins "We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation" [Nihonjin o minzoku to shite doreika sen to shi mata wa kokumin to shite metsubo seshimen to suru no ito o yu suru mono ni arazaru].

The terms used in the Japanese translation of the Potsdam declaration are echoed in the "waga minzoku no metsubo" (destruction of our race) phrasing in the Imperial Rescript issued on 14 August 1945 accepting the demand for unconditional surrender (see full transcription and translation under "Imperial Family" in "Nationalism" section).


teki wa arata ni zangyaku naru bakudan o shiyou shite shikiri ni muko o sasshou shi sangai no oyofu tokoro makoto ni hakaru hekarasaru ni itaru shikamo nao kousen o keizoku semu ka tsui ni wa ka minzoku no metsubou o shourai suru nominarasu hiite jinrui no bunmei o mo hakyaku suheshi kaku no gotokumu

the enemy has newly utilized a bomb that is atrocious, and it has repeatedly killed or wounded the innocent, and the extent of the devastation has become truly impossible to measure. Yet still are [we] to continue the exchange of hostilities? Not only would [to do so] ultimately invite the ruin of our race [racioethnic nation], but in turn it would destroy also the civilization of humankind.

The standard English translation has "obliteration of the Japanese nation" instead of "destruction of our race".

Note, however, that the standard Japanese version of the Potsdam declaration renders "nation" as "kokumin" (‘–¯) -- which is used used in the postwar constitution to mean the sovereign "people" of Japan, in place of "shinmin" (b–¯), which was used in the Meiji constitution to mean the "loyal people" or "subjects" of the sovereign emperor.

Note also that the word "race" -- i.e., "racioethnic nation" (–¯‘°) does not appear in the Instrument of Surrender signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. Nor is the word found in the 1952 San Francisco or Taipei peace treaties, or in the 1965 normalization treaty with ROK -- for the simple and good reason that there was no legal cause for its use in such documents.

1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty

The San Francisco Treaty of Peace with Japan was signed by 48 states in addition to Japan: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Ceylon, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Republic of the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the Union of South Africa, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Viet-Nam.

1952 Taipei Peace Treaty

The Treaty of Peace between Japan and the Republic of China was signed by the foreign ministers of both the Republic of China and Japan in Taipei on 28 April 1952.

The Taipei treaty is very short in comparison with the San Francisco treaty. Article 2 reiterates the provisions in the San Francisco treaty concerning territory related to the Republic of China. Article 4 recognizes that "all treaties, conventions, and agreements concluded before 9 December 1941 between Japan and China have become null and void as a consequence of the war."

Article 10 provides that

For the purposes of the present Treaty, nationals of the Republic of China shall be deemed to include all the inhabitants and former inhabitants of Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores) and their descendents who are of the Chinese nationality in accordance with the laws and regulations which have been or may hereafter be enforced by the Republic of China in Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores); and juridical persons of the Republic of China shall be deemed to include all those registered under the laws and regulations which have been or may hereafter be enforced by the Republic of China in Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores).

By consequence of Articles 2, 4, and 10, everyone with family registers in Taiwan and Penghu regardless of where they may be domiciled (including Japan), are ROC nationals.

The Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China, signed in Beijin on 29 September 1972 by the foreign ministers of both countries, stipulated that "The Government of Japan recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China" (Statement 2). The communique was signed by the heads of state (prime minister and premier), and by the foreign ministers, of both countries.

1965 treaty with ROK

Japan and the Republic of Korea did not sign the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea until 22 June 1965. Signed in Tokyo by the foreign ministers of both countries, this treaty, modeled on the Taipei treaty, is also tied to the San Francisco treaty.

As in the Taipei treaty, the Article 2 of the treaty with ROK similarly confirms that "all treaties or agreements concluded between the Empire of Japan and the Empire of Korea on or before August 22, 1910 are already null and void."

Unlike the Taipei treaty, which does not stipulate that Japan recognize only ROC and not PRC, the agreement with ROK confirms that "the Government of the Republic of Korea is the only lawful Government in Korea as specified in the Resolution 195 (III) of the United Nations General Assembly."

Language of treaties

Territorial disputes between Japan and Russia, ROK/DPRK, and PRC/ROC involve interpretations of all postwar treaties. The 1952 San Francisco peace treaty was done "in the English, French and Spanish languages, all being equally authentic, and in the Japanese language."

Article 14 of the 1952 Taipei treaty states that "The present Treaty shall be in the Japanese, Chinese and English languages. In case of any divergence of interpretation, the English text shall prevail." The 1965 treaty with ROK was done "in the Japanese, Korean, and English languages, each text being equally authentic. In case of any divergence of interpretation, the English text shall prevail."

28 April 1952

Japan signed a peace treaty with the Allied Powers, excluding the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China, on 8 September 1951 in San Francisco. It signed a separate peace treaty with the Republic of China on 28 April 1952 in Taipei. The Taipei treaty came into force on 5 August 1952, the day Japan and ROC exchanged instruments of ratification, also in Taipei.

So 28 April 1952 is the date the terms of the San Francisco treaty came into force, the date the Taipei treaty was signed, and the date the 1952 Alien Restration Law was both promulgated and came into force, abolishing the Alien Registration Order of 1947. In fact, supplementary provisions of the 1952 ARL state that most articles of the law will come into effect as of the first date that the San Francisco treaty begins to operate, meaning 28 April.

Until this point in legal time, all people in Japan with Taiwan and Chosen registers were actually Japanese. Some Japanese agencies regarded such people as aliens from the moment Japan surrendered. This attitude was partly encouraged by SCAP's treatment of people in Japan with Taiwan and Chosen registers as "third nationals" -- meaning nationals of neither allied states (first nationals) nor enemy states (second nationals).



Asakawa Akihiro's research

There are several immigration policy "think tanks" in Japan. The most recent such organization is the Japan Immigration Policy Institute (Nihon Imin Seisaku Kenkyujo) was launched in 2005 by its director (shocho), Sakanaka Hidenori, after his retirement in March that year as director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. Sakanaka, born in 1945, joined the Ministry of Justice in 1970 and held a number of posts in the Immigration Bureau during his 35 year career in MOJ.

The administrative director of JIPI is Asakawa Akihiro, who was born as a third-generation Korean in Japan in 1974. Asakawa is a product of Kobe, Osaka, and Nagoya colleges, and is presently an assistant professor at the Graduate School of International Development at Nagoya University. He has studied in Australia and worked for the Japanese Embassy in Australia as a specialist reseacher.

Asakawa specializes in migration and immigration policy, and in Australian politics and society. Much of his research has centered on Koreans in Japan and naturalization.

Asakawa is the author of the following highly recommended book.

Asakawa Akihiro
Zainichi gaikokujin to kika seido
[Japan-resdent aliens and the naturalization system]
Tokyo: Shinkansha, 2003
202 pages

This compact book is the most recent of several volumes that have appeared over the past few decades, on the topic of naturalization in Japan. Its contents are as follows.

Chapter 1   Overview of postwar naturalizers
An analysis of postwar Kanpo notices of permits to naturalize. Highlights trends and traits of naturalizers as seen in official statistics, and examines the system of publishing notices of permits to naturalize in Kanpo and the content of the notices.

Chapter 2   Case study of naturalization
Examines the naturalization system in light of the experiences of a family of Japan-resdident ROK Koreans whose members naturalized.

Chapter 3   Survey of naturalizers
Reports the results of a survey of the circumstances of circumstances, experiences, and attitudes of naturalizers.

Final Chapter   Proposal
Puts forth ideas about future approaches to Japanese nationality

More recently Asakawa has published the following breakdown of Kanpo naturalization permit notices for 2004.

Asakawa Akihiro
"2004 nen no kika-kyoka-sha no gaiyo"
[Overview of persons permitted to naturalize in 2004]
Gaikokujin Seisaku Kenkyujo
[Japan Immigration Policy Institute (JIPI)]
28 October 2005
Gaikokujin Seisaku Chosa Repooto 1
[JIPI Survey Report 1]

The report includes a total breakdown of naturalizers by age and prefecture, based on notices published in Kanpo. Asakawa observes that the 16,295 notices he found in Kanpo are 41 short of 16,366 individuals that the Ministry of Justice elsewhere claims to have permitted to naturalize in 2004. He does not know if the difference is due to compiliation errors on his part, or to a gap between MOJ's statistics and notices in Kanpo. I have talked about this problem elsewhere regarding Kim Yong Dul's 1980 study of naturalization of Koreans in Japan.

Apparently Asakawa was unable to classify one of his own data sets, for his tables tally only 16,294 and not 16,295. These 16,294 persons ranged in age from 0 to 86. Asakawa broke the entire sample down into single ages, then tallied this data into 10-year age groups as follows (from Asakawa's summary).

Naturalizers by age group, 2004
Age      Persons    Percent

 0-9      1,159      7.1
10-19     2,077     12.7
20-29     3,488     21.4
30-39     4,276     26.2
40-49     2,861     17.6
50-59     1,527      9.4
60+         906      5.6

Total    16,294    100.0

Asakawa noted that, since one must be 20 or older to apply for naturalization, nearly 20 percent of those who were permitted to acquire Japanese nationality in 2004 were children of adult applicants. In other words, a lot of people were naturalized as families.

Asakawa broke the addresses in the Kanpo notices down by prefecture, in order of high to low frequency. All 47 prefectures are listed. The highest and lowest five were as follows (my summary and percents based on Asakawa's data).

Naturalizers by prefecture, 2004
Prefecture    Persons    Percent

Osaka         3,209      
Tokyo         2,361
Hyogo         1,485
Aichi         1,170
Kanagawa      1,153
Kyoto         1,142
Fukuoka         598
Saitama         595

[31 other prefectures omitted]  

Kumamoto         33
Kagoshima        30
Aomori           26
Tokushima        25
Shimane          22
Tottori          18
Kochi            15
Saga             14


Table 1: Naturalization in Japan, 1952-2013

The demographics of interest in becoming Japanese

The following table shows annual counts of aliens who (1) permitted to naturalize by nationality -- Korean (ŠØ‘E’©‘N Kankoku·Chōsen), Chinese (’†‘ Chūgoku) including Taiwan (‘ä˜p Taiwan), and Others (‚»‚Ì‘¼ Sono ta) and (2) not permitted to naturalize, and (3) allowed to apply. It also shows the numbers of Japanese who renounced or lost their nationality.

The rates of unpermitted naturalizations at best estimates.

The figures for renunciation and lost nationality are incomplete, and the manner in which they were compiled is not clear.


Naturalization in Japan, 1950-2013
And renunciation or loss of Japanese nationality
Koreans, Chinese, and other aliens who became Japanese through naturalization
Japanese who ceased being Japanese through renunciation or loss of nationality
Compiled and computed from government sources, and designed, by William Wetherall
Number permitted by nationality, number not permitted, and number of applicants, by year
Plus number of renunciations and of losses of Japanese nationality, by year
Legal Affairs Bureau (Ministry of Justice) data @ @ @ @ Residence registration data @ @
Permitted to naturalize @ Not permitted Applied Changes in Japanese nationality
Kan/Cho Chugoku Others Total Number Percent in year Naturalized Renounced Lost
k c o p=k+c+o r % r/(p+r)
1950-1951 2 14 16 1950-1951
1952 232 18 32 282 219 43.71% 1,095 1952
1953 1,326 2 103 1,431 568 28.41% 2,737 1953
1954 2,435 5 168 2,608 1,223 31.92% 4,347 1954
1955 2,434 5 222 2,661 2,332 46.71% 5,585 2,584 2,565 3,031 1955
1956 2,290 - 257 2,547 2,385 48.36% 5,756 1956
1957 2,312 57 213 2,582 2,909 52.98% 5,993 1957
1958 2,246 200 148 2,594 2,896 52.75% 5,990 1958
1959 2,737 238 101 3,076 3,020 49.54% 7,482 1959
1960 3,763 270 123 4,156 2,955 41.56% 8,130 4,247 787 2,842 1960
1961 2,710 201 102 3,013 2,933 49.33% 7,671 1961
1962 3,222 233 159 3,614 3,433 48.72% 8,297 1962
1963 3,558 421 121 4,100 2,519 38.06% 8,271 1963
1964 4,632 617 196 5,445 1,217 18.27% 8,759 1964
1965 3,438 532 118 4,088 1,186 22.49%        3,675 968 603 1965
1966 3,816 753 166 4,735 1,620 25.49%        3,628 1,098 593 1966
1967 3,391 589 170 4,150 2,216 34.81%        3,494 947 599 1967
1968 3,194 114 193 3,501 1,978 36.10%        2,871 658 665 1968
1969 1,889 124 140 2,153 841 28.09% 5,372 2,489 678 761 1969
1970 4,646 320 413 5,379 1,416 20.84% 5,663 5,418 675 775 1970
1971 2,874 249 263 3,386 666 16.44% 6,794 3,420 515 587 1971
1972 4,983 1,303 539 6,825 811 10.62% 12,417 8,280 479 6,831 1972
1973 5,769 7,338 522 13,629 684 4.78% 11,436 12,568 433 689 1973
1974 3,973 3,026 394 7,393 585 7.33% 9,728 6,873 403 575 1974
1975 6,323 1,641 604 8,568 1,016 10.60% 9,080 9,057 322 517 1975
1976 3,951 1,323 333 5,607 1,329 19.16% 8,325 5,284 353 427 1976
1977 4,261 1,113 306 5,680 2,019 26.22% 8,628 5,402 286 463 1977
1978 5,362 1,620 409 7,391 1,094 12.89% 8,440 7,324 252 601 1978
1979 4,701 1,402 355 6,458 1,527 19.12% 9,786 6,484 265 384 1979
1980 5,987 1,619 398 8,004 1,124 12.31% 9,158 8,190 271 498 1980
1981 6,829 1,572 422 8,823 874 9.01% 9,168 9,320 220 321 1981
1982 6,521 1,542 431 8,494 792 8.53% 9,126 7,814 219 303 1982
1983 5,532 1,560 343 7,435 458 5.80% 8,463 6,708 189 211 1983
1984 4,608 1,183 378 6,169 426 6.46% 8,034 9,253 207 251 1984
1985 5,040 1,434 350 6,824 604 8.13% 7,930 13,927 323 320 1985
1986 5,110 1,304 222 6,636 457 6.44% 7,664 1986
1987 4,882 1,131 209 6,222 505 7.51% 7,587 1987
1988 4,595 990 182 5,767 539 8.55% 7,523 1988
1989 4,759 1,066 264 6,089 399 6.15% 8,702 1989
1990 5,216 1,349 229 6,794 274 3.88% 9,904 @ @ @ 1990
1991 5,665 1,818 305 7,788 223 2.78% 10,373 1991
1992 7,244 1,794 325 9,363 162 1.70% 11,479 1992
1993 7,697 2,244 511 10,452 126 1.19% 12,706 1993
1994 8,244 2,478 424 11,146 146 1.29% 12,278 1994
1995 10,327 3,184 593 14,104 93 0.66% 12,346 1995
1996 9,898 3,976 621 14,495 97 0.66% 14,944 1996
1997 9,678 4,729 654 15,061 90 0.59% 16,164 1997
1998 9,561 4,637 581 14,779 108 0.73% 17,486 1998
1999 10,059 5,335 726 16,120 202 1.24% 17,067 1999
2000 9,842 5,245 725 15,812 215 1.34% 14,936 @ 150 563 2000
2001 10,295 4,377 619 15,291 130 0.84% 13,442 156 450 2001
2002 9,188 4,442 709 14,339 107 0.74% 13,344 169 467 2002
2003 11,778 4,722 1,133 17,633 150 0.84% 15,666 203 503 2003
2004 11,031 4,122 1,183 16,336 148 0.90% 16,790 211 515 2004
2005 9,689 4,427 1,135 15,251 166 1.08% 14,666 175 567 2005
2006 8,531 4,347 1,230 14,108 255 1.78% 15,340 151 506 2006
2007 8,546 4,740 1,394 14,680 260 1.74% 16,107 159 608 2007
2008 7,412 4,322 1,484 13,218 269 1.99% 15,440 172 (179) 619 2008
2009 7,637 5,392 1,756 14,785 201 1.34% 14,878 209 628 2009
2010 6,668 4,816 1,588 13,072 234 1.76% 13,391 @ 180 583 2010
2011 5,656 3,259 1,444 10,359 279 2.62% 11,008 168 712 2011
2012 5,581 3,598 1,443 10,622 457 4.12% 9,940 262 711 2012
2013 4,331 2,845 1,470 8,646 332 3.70% 10,119 380 767 2013
Kan/Cho Chugoku Others Total Number Percent in year Naturalized Renounced Lost
Permitted to naturalize @ Not permitted Applied Changes in Japanese nationality
Legal Affairs Bureau data @ @ @ @ Residence registration data
1952-1964 1965-1985 1965-1985
Period 1952-2013 1952-2013 1969-2013 2000-2013 2000-2013 Period
Totals 350,105 129,313 32,351 511,769 58,499 10.26% 588,951 12,334 25,173 Totals
Compiled and computed from government sources, and designed, by William Wetherall
First posted March 2006, Last updated June 2013
Terms Kan/Cho Legacy Chosen affiliates until 1965 when ROK (Kankoku) recognized.
ROK (Kankoku) nationals and legacy Chosen affiliates since 1965.
Chugoku ROC nationals and PRC affiliates until 1972 when PRC recognized.
PRC nationals and ROC affiliates since 1972.
Others Other foreign nationals and stateless aliens.
Notes 1952-1965 data on
Permitted (p) and Not permitted (r) are numbers of such actions taken during the year.
Applied (a) is the number of applicants during the year.
Since actions are not necessarily taken within the year of application,
Applied (a) is not the sum of the Permitted (p) and Not permitted (r).
Most analysts compute rejection rates as ratios of Not permitted (r) to Applied (a).
However, the ratio should be to the Total Permitted and Not permitted (p+r).
Percent The percent applicants not permitted to naturalize, as calculated here, is at best
an estimate. A true rejection rate cannot be computed from the received data.
Registered in year Number of new alien registrations due to naturalization.
This figure reflects number of aliens permitted to naturalize,
who actually changed their registration status during the year.
1950-1951 The figures are from Kim Yong Dal 1980 (page 10, Table 1), who attributes them to Oomori Kazuto 1969 (pages 86-87). The 16 total, consisting entirely of stateless aliens 2 of whom were Chinese, is reported as being for "1 July 1950 through 1951". Because ROC's Nationality Law would have permitted Chinese to keep their ROC nationality after acquiring another nationality, Japan required ROC nationals to renounce their nationality before applying for naturalization.
Nishioka 1997 reports that 333 aliens had been permitted to naturalize "On or before 27 April 1952" (page 131, Table 3).
1952 Nishioka 1997 qualifies the the 1952 figures as "From 18 April" (page 131, Table 3).
1952-1988 Annual figures for China and Others from Asakawa 2003 (Table 1.1, pages 14-15).
1952-1964 Asakawa gives annual figures but Nishioka gives only subtotals for China and Others.
The subtotals of Asakawa's figures differ from Nishikawa's subtotals.
But the totals of their figures for China and Others agree at 4,212.
Their 1952-1964 figures for China and Others differ by 1,090.
China Others Total
Nishioka 3,035 1,177 4,212
Asakawa 1,945 2,267 4,212
|¢| 1,090 1,090
Nishioka's 1976 figures are Total 5,605, Korea 3,051, China 1,323, and Others 331.
Nishioka's 1976 Total exceeds the sum of his component figures by 900.
Asakawa's 1976 figures are Total 5,607, Korea 3,951, China 1,323, and Others 333.
Asakawa's 1976 Total agrees with his own component data and other sources.
1972 Okinawa returned to Japan on 15 May 1972.
6,831 Figure includes 6,150 new people who lost their Japanese nationality upon the return of Okinawa.
(MOJ 1976, page 92, Table 3-10, note 2)
1972 Japan switches China recognition from ROC to PRC on 29 September 1972.
12,417 Most of the sudden increase in naturalization applications is from ROC nationals.
1973 5,769 Korean peak probably reflects baby-boom generation by then in its mid-20s.
13,629 Chinese peak represents mostly forner ROC nationals.
4.78% Null rejection rate partly an artifact of sudden jumps in number of applications.
1998 17,486 Peak in applications corresponds with low numbers and rates of rejection.
Subsequent general decline in applications accompanied by general rise in rejections.
2003 17,633 Peak in total naturalizers reflects Korean peak.
2013 Sharp drops across the board lowest for "Other" (non-Korean, non-Chinese) naturalizers.
Sources Homusho, Minjikyoku
[Ministry of Justice, Civil Affairs Bureau]
Both printed reports and reports on MOJ's website.
Kim Yong Dal (Ono Hidetatsu)              
Zainichi Chosenjin no kika
(Nihon no kika kyosei ni tsuite no kenkyu)
[Naturalization of Japan-resident Chosenjin
Research on naturalization administration in Japan)]
Kobe: Kim Yong Dal, 1980
156 pages, softcover
< As cited by Kim Yong Dal >
Oomori Kazuto ‘åX˜al
"Kokuseki jimu no suusei to doukou" u‘ÐŽ––±‚̐–¨‚Æ“®Œüv
[Currents and trends in nationality administration]
Minji geppou w–¯Ž–ŒŽ•ñx, October 1969, pages 86-87
Oomori was a kakaricho in the 5th section
of the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice,
which publishes Minji geppou.
Nishioka Tsutomu
Koria tabuu o toku
[Dispelling Korean taboos]
Tokyo: Aki Shobo, 1997
261 pages, hardcover
Tei Taikin (Chung Daekyun)
Zainichi Kankokujin no shuen
[The end of Korean residents in Japan]
Tokyo: Bungei Shunju, 2001
196 pages, paperback (Bunshun shinsho 196)
Asakawa Akihiro
Zainichi gaikokujin to kika seido
[Aliens (residing) in Japan and the naturalization system]
Tokyo: Shinkansha, 2003
202 pages, softcover
Morita Yoshio (edited and updated by Kim Yong Dal)
Suji ga kataru zainichi Kankoku Chosenjin no rekishi
[History of Kankoku/Chosenjin (residing) in Japan that numbers tell]
Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 1996
183 pages, hardcover


Table 2: Family ties of naturalizers in Japan, 1952-1962

Nationality unification in mixed-nationality families

The following table shows that over half of all aliens who naturalized during the 1st decade following the end of the Occupation of Japan in 1952 had family connections with "Japanese" defined as people who were, or had been, in prefectural registers. 23 percent with Japanese connections were former Japanese who had changed their nationality through marriage or adoption -- but the rest were alien spouses, children, or parents of Japanese.

The rates of intermarriage with Japanese of all aliens who migrate to and settle in Japan, or are born in Japan, are naturally high. I would guess that the percentages of naturalizers from mixed-nationality families increased during the last few decades of the 19th century, given the fact the intermarriage rate of Koreans -- the largest national minority in Japan until 2007 -- sharply increased from the 1960s to over 80 or 90 percent by the 2000s, depending on how the rate is computed (see above).


Family ties of naturalizers in Japan, 1952-1962
Koreans and other aliens, by sex, and by relationship to Japanese nationality
Compiled and computed from government sources, and designed, by William Wetherall
Males @ @ @ Females @ @ @
Under 20 20 and over Under 20 @ 20 and over
Status relationship Totals Koreans Others Koreans Others Koreans Others Koreans Others
All naturalizers @ 28,579 6,264 594 7,200 647 5,735 601 6,524 1,014
Former Japanese @ 3,928 18 87 43 227 12 93 2,867 581
Spouse Japanese @ 1,152 2 1 277 48 30 2 576 216
Parents Japanese @ 593 42 139 32 74 51 141 44 70
Father Japanese @ 635 191 125 20 11 158 107 16 7
Mother Japanese @ 1,877 591 48 305 15 569 45 291 13
Parents former Japanese 20 6 1 1 1 5 1 4 1
Father former Japanese 12 4 1 4 2 1
Mother former Japanese 8,796 3,316 162 990 31 3,180 165 901 51
Adopted child of Japanese 72 20 1 15 24 1 10 1
Pure Korean @ 11,108 2,074 5,517 1,702 1,815
Other pure alien @ 386 29 240 44 73
Nationality Sex @ Age @
Status relationship Totals Koreans Others Males Females Minors Adults
Japanese @ 17,085 14,615 2,470 6,845 10,240 9,345 7,740
Pure Korean 11,108 11,108 0 7,591 3,517 3,776 7,332
Other pure alien 386 0 386 269 117 73 313
All naturalizers 28,579 25,723 2,856 14,705 13,874 13,194 15,385
Japanese related 59.8 51.1 8.6 24.0 35.8 32.7 27.1
Korean related 38.9 38.9 0.0 26.6 12.3 13.2 25.7
Other related 1.4 0.0 1.4 0.9 0.4 0.3 1.1
All naturalizers 100.0 90.0 10.0 51.5 48.5 46.2 53.8
Glossary Status relationship = mibun kankei = legal status related to Japanese nationality
Japanese = Nihonjin = person with Japanese nationality (honseki in Japan)
pure = jun = unrelated to people of nationalities other than one's own nationality
Korean = Chosenjin = Chosenese = person with honseki in former Chosen (Korea)
alien = gaikokujin = outlander = person who does not have Japanese nationality
Notes During the period of this survey, all Koreans in Japan were legally affiliates of the former Japanese territory of "Chosen".Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) did not establish normal relations until late in 1965.Only after the normalization treaty comes into effect the same year has "Kankoku" (ROK) nationality been formally recognized under Japanese law.Chosenese who have not migrated to ROK nationality remain legacy affiliates of Chosen as a former Japanese territory -- hence the "Kankoku/Chosen" category in alien statistics today.
Naturalization begins from 28 April 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty comes into effect.This date marks the resumption of Japanese sovereignty, hence control over its nationality.
The total number of naturalizers in this table is 28,579 -- 15 more than the 28,564 total for the years 1952-1962 in the larger table.
Source Homusho Nyukoku Kanri Kyoku (compiler)
Nyukoku kanri to sono jittai
Tokyo: Okurasho Insatsukyoku, 1964
Page 91-92