RETAINING AN ATTORNEY
In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, a left-behind parent may want to consult with a Japanese attorney, especially if the parent is not fluent in written and spoken Japanese and is unfamiliar with the Japanese legal system. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo maintains a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The State Department assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, any persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers and should be vetted prior to retaining the attorney.
Japan offers free or reduced fee legal aid services for divorce and custody matters to persons in legal visa/immigration status inJapanwhose income is below specified levels. Interested parties should contact Houterasu (The Japan Legal Support Center) which is a nationwide legal support center which helps callers locate professional support in civil and criminal matters.
CITIZENSHIP & PASSPORT MATTERS
According to Article 3 of the Nationality Act, a child acquires Japanese citizenship if either parent is a Japanese national at the time of birth. A child of an unmarried Japanese father or mother and non-Japanese father or mother may acquire Japanese citizenship if the child’s legal representative notifies the Ministry of Justice and the Japanese parent recognizes the child. Under Article 14 of the Nationality Act, Japan permits dual nationality for children up to the age of 22; however, after the age of 22, the individual must choose one and renounce the other.
Japanese law requires the consent of both parents before issuing a child a passport; however, the consent of the non-applying parent is presumed when only one parent applies. The consular officer in a Japanese Embassy or consulate should ask the applying parent to affirm that the non-applying parent consents to Japanese passport issuance. If a parent objects to the issuance of a Japanese passport to a minor, he/she should notify a passport office in Japan, or a Japanese Embassy or consulate in writing and include documentation that shows that the objecting parent has legal custody of the child. Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs policy states that Japanese authorities should contact the objecting parent and request a letter of consent from the objecting parent prior to issuing the child a passport. Instructions are on the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
The State Department cannot confirm the reliability of Japan’s reported procedures for preventing the unlawful removal of a child to Japan given reports of inconsistent application of MOFA’s policy.
Japan does not allow a child to be included on a parent’s passport.