When a child is born between a Japanese and a foreigner, the question is whether the child receives both Japanese citizenship and the citizenship of the other parent.
For example, if a Japanese and a Chinese marry, will the child receive Japanese citizenship, Chinese citizenship, or both?
This article discusses the question of which citizenship the child receives when a Japanese and a Chinese marry.
Rules in the Chinese Nationality Law
The Chinese Nationality Law contains the following provisions.
- If one or both parents have Chinese citizenship and the child was born abroad, the child acquires Chinese citizenship.
In other words: If the father or mother is Chinese and the child was born in a country other than China, the child usually acquires Chinese citizenship.
For example, if a child is born to a Japanese father and Chinese mother in Japan, the child usually acquires Chinese citizenship.
However, there is an exception to the above rule.
If one or both parents are Chinese nationals and have settled abroad, the child does not acquire Chinese citizenship if the child acquires foreign citizenship at the time of birth.
The above provision shows that Chinese Nationality Law generally aims to prohibit dual nationality.
In other words, even if the child’s father or mother has Chinese citizenship, the child cannot acquire Chinese citizenship (no dual citizenship) if the parent has settled abroad, and thus acquires non-Chinese citizenship at birth.
For example, if a child is born in Japan to a Japanese father and a Chinese mother, the child cannot acquire Chinese citizenship if the parents have settled in Japan.
In Japan, the principle of descent (jus sanguinis) applies to the acquisition of citizenship by birth. If the father or mother has Japanese citizenship, the child acquires Japanese citizenship by birth.
Therefore, in the above case, the child acquires Japanese citizenship by birth and cannot acquire Chinese citizenship.
What it means to settle abroad
The question arises as to what it means to be “settled abroad" as defined in China’s Nationality Law.
This is because whether a child can acquire Chinese citizenship depends on the circumstances under which the parents settle in a foreign country.
The details of the application of this rule depend on the interpretation of the Chinese authorities, but if, for example, a parent with Chinese citizenship living in Japan has obtained a permanent residence permit, this means that the parent has settled in Japan, but not if he or she has only a spousal visa.
Because of this difference, even with children of a Japanese parent and a Chinese parent living in Japan, there are cases where the child can acquire Chinese citizenship and cases where this is not possible.