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Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Food and citizenship concerns

Dual citizenship

Joe is looking for further clarification on the dual citizenship issue raised in the June 27 Lifelines column.

"I am a U.S. citizen," he says, "married to Japanese. We have no kids as yet. My job has me traveling extensively, and my wife would prefer to give birth in a Japanese hospital due to language concerns. I don't know about the eligibility for U.S. citizenship in this case either (I was born abroad to two American parents, but what if the parents are different nationalities?).

I had heard that dual citizenship applied in this case, but that was most likely rumor. Could you please help me with the research, and inform us all about this 'what if' scenario?

"For example, what if a child is born in Japan to parents of different nationalities (one Japanese, one foreign)? Is the child eligible for Japanese citizenship? Or citizenship in her other parent's country? Or both?"

The answer to Joe's question is pretty simple and straightforward. If one of the parents is Japanese, the child is eligible for Japanese citizenship, which he or she can carry along with the citizenship of the other parent until they are 20.

At this time, they will be asked to choose which of the two citizenships they would like to keep.

In other words, legally they can be "dual citizens" until they are 20, at which point they are asked to choose.

You can get more details at www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/

As for the United States side, I, for example, was born in Japan of American parents. The procedure is again relatively easy and involves paperwork certifying your children as children of American citizens. This can be done at any American Embassy or Consulate.

For further information, you can contact the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo through japan.usembassy.gov or call them at (03) 3224-5000. All the details are there. One unique part of U.S. law, in contrast to many others, including Japan, is that if you are born in the United States you are automatically an American citizen.


Steve will be going back to Europe for the summer vacation, so he's already thinking about what "omiyage" to bring back from there for friends and co-workers in Japan. He wants to know what restrictions currently exist on bringing food items into Japan and has heard that the rules have been tightened recently.

Steve doesn't specify what he means by "food," so we've checked fruits, vegetables and meat and packaged or processed foods.

Each group is regulated by different laws and ministries. In terms of fruits and vegetables, the best rule of thumb is pretty much that you can't bring any into the country. At the same time, there are some exceptions. For example, you cannot bring back oranges from Hawaii, but you can from the continental U.S. Apples from Europe are unwelcome, as are oranges from China. For a complete list of what's banned and current updates, go to www.pps.go.jp/english/law/list2.html , as regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. You can also call (047) 632-6690.

In terms of meat, it is much the same. Again, the best rule of thumb is that you cannot bring meat through, though there are regional exceptions and some products, for example some dried meat, canned meat etc., are OK.

For the latest updates, see www.maff-aqs.go.jp/english/index.htm or call (047) 634-2342.

For other food items, as long as they are for personal use and under 10 kg, there should not be a problem as long as it is packaged. As there are so many differentials, if in doubt just show what you are not sure of at the quarantine station before you go through customs.

We'd love to hear from our readers if they've have had any useful experiences with bringing food into Japan.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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