Korean-Japanese Here Seek Way to Make Tokyo Gov. Legally Recognize Their NK Citizenship


About a dozen children of Japanese mothers and north Korean fathers in Japan, who were recognized as overseas north Korean citizens by Pyongyang, sought legal advice on how to force the Japanese government to enable them to disown their Japanese citizenship and to legally recognize them as Korean citizens.

Representing more than 100 others, 13 Korean-Japanese on Mar. 17 have submitted certificates proving they are north Korean citizens to their local government offices. However, the Justice Ministry of Japan did not allow them to renounce Japanese nationality and adopt north Korean citizenship.

Consequently, the 13 residents from regions of Hokkaido to Kyushu, on the same day sought legal advice from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

Under the Nationality Law of Japan, people who have had other citizenship can be divested of Japanese citizenship. Although the 13 already acquired their DPRK citizenship last July under its nationality law, the Japanese government has rejected their request, saying Japan does not officially recognize the Democratic Peoplefs Republic of Korea and any law of an unrecognized country cannot be applied.

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Justice Ministry has made resident north Koreans subject to the nationality law of south Korea, based on the fact that the Tokyo government has diplomatic ties only with south Korea. That law requires a foreigner who obtains south Korean citizenship to relinquish his or her old nationality within six months or be stripped of all his or her status as a Korean.

The law is said to be designed to prohibit dual nationality. Since many north Korean-Japanese resident did not abide by the terms of the south Korean law, they are considered Japanese by fault. In case of the 13 Koreans, they have been legally regarded as Japanese though they are acknowledged by their father who have north Korean citizenship.

The 13 representatives argue that to renounce citizenship is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that the central government has no authority to force the south Korean nationality law on resident north Koreans.

The Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws which Japan already signed, stipulates, gIt is for each State to determine under its own law who are its nationals. This law shall be recognised by other States in so far as it is consistent with international conventions, international customs, and the principles of law generally recognized with regard to nationality.h (Art.1)

It also stipulates that gAny question as to whether a person possesses the nationality of a particular State shall be determined in accordance with the law of that State.h (Act. 2)

Thus, in case of the 13 Koreans, there is no room for Japan, the third person, to interfere in the nationality issue of resident Koreans as they have reacquired north Korean citizenship and the DPRK government already accepted their demand.

Recognition of other countries is a matter of diplomacy, and it cannot have any effect upon individualsf nationality choice. And the rejection of north Korean nationality under the pretext of its non-recognition obviously constitutes an invasion of state sovereignty and a violation of individualsf human rights.

Their continuous demand that Japan should allow them to divest themselves of Japanese nationality is significant in that the Japanese government is urged to change its attitude toward the nationality issue of resident north Koreans, to whom the south Korean law is unfairly applied.

The Japanese mother of two of the 13, said gIfve already explained my children the unfair treatment they would face if they have north Korean citizenship in Japan. But they decided to make the request, and I thought it would be better for them to be proud of their lineage of their father, without escaping from difficulty by changing their origins.h

The nationality issue is considered to be solved easily when the DPRK-Japan diplomatic ties are normalized.

However, the nationality issue should be settled properly and immediately as it has deep relations to the national identity of Korean residents in Japan as well as to their social and legal position of them.

gWe receive tremendous mental suffering by the Japanese governmentfs discriminative treatment of its nationality issue. If the authority refuses to accept our request, we will continue to fight against the discrimination,h the representative said.

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