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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007

Reversal: Nine kids with Japanese dads not citizens


Staff writer

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday overturned a lower court ruling and denied Japanese nationality to nine children with Filipino mothers and Japanese fathers who are not married.

The Nationality Law says that a child born out of wedlock to a non-Japanese mother is only recognized as a citizen if the Japanese father admits paternity prior to the child's birth or marries the mother before the child turns 20. In the case of the nine kids, the fathers came forward after they were born but did not wed the mothers.

Presiding Judge Hidetoshi Somiya said the law is justified and does not interfere with the children's constitutional right to equality.

Somiya also said the court does not have the authority to grant the children citizenship.

"The decision to grant nationality is an inherent right of the state," he said.

The plaintiff's lawyers called the verdict "weak" and said they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

"The children have no one in the Diet who will speak for them. The court was the only place that could grant the children's wish, but it refused," lawyer Hironori Kondo said.

Rosanna Tapiru, the mother of 9-year-old plaintiff Masami, called the ruling "incomprehensible" and said she is ready to prepare her case for the Supreme Court. "I will work hard together with my mother," Masami added.

The nine plaintiffs, between the ages of 7 and 13 and all born in Japan, have Philippine citizenship and live in Tokyo and Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa and Aichi prefectures with permanent residence status.

The nine mothers of the plaintiffs all reside with their children.

The children's Japanese fathers acknowledged paternity after they were born and the parents have not married.

They applied to be recognized as Japanese citizens in early 2005 but were rejected on grounds that they did not fulfill the conditions.

The children filed the lawsuit against the government in April 2005. The Tokyo District Court in March 2006 ruled in their favor, saying the clause in the Nationality Law "obstructs the constitutional right to equality" and has put the plaintiffs at "an immense disadvantage."

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Justice Ministry said in its arguments to the high court that "there are rational reasons to the legal clause."

The government claims the law is not discriminatory, and the clause has historical and cultural grounding. This alludes to Japan's long-held position on citizenship. The government has also said the law promotes legal marriages.



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