Children stateless in Japan due to gaps in knowledge about process, survey finds

Japan Times -- Jul 21
A lack of parental knowledge about necessary paperwork is the main reason why children of foreign residents in Japan become stateless, a government survey showed Tuesday, amid an increase in such children without nationality.

The first such survey to be conducted by Japan’s immigration agency found 232, or 76.1%, of 305 children who were born between 2016 and 2020 and without nationality at least before turning 1 year old were stateless as a result of their parents not providing authorities with necessary documents.

Tokyo does not adopt the principle of birthright citizenship, and when foreign nationals have children they are required to register the birth at an embassy or other diplomatic establishment with the submission of documents such as passports in order for the child to gain nationality.

Of the 232 children for whom documents were not initially submitted, 188 had acquired nationality as of April this year.

Being stateless in Japan does not preclude residency status, but such people may face disadvantages such as not being able to obtain a passport or a certificate of being single — a document required in some circumstances to register a marriage.

With a surge in the number of foreign students and workers in Japan, the number of stateless children has been on the rise over the past few years.

As of the end of 2020, there were 211 stateless children in the country under 5 years old — up from 54 in 2015. The total number of stateless people in Japan, including adults, hovered at around 500 to 600 between 2015 and 2020.

- Japan Times