How to Obtain Japanese Citizenship


There are a variety of reasons for wanting to obtain Japanese citizenship. The reasons may range from practical (you may have long-term employment in the country or are preparing to marry a Japanese citizen) to romantic (you've fallen in love with the culture). Regardless of the reasons, obtaining Japanese citizenship is no easy feat and should be approached with care and caution. Specific steps must be taken and documents must be obtained before the procedure for applying for Japanese citizenship can begin.

Things You'll Need

  • Required documents
  • Application
  • Determine if you meet the basic requirements for naturalization. The Japanese government has issued a short list of basic requirements which must be met before an application for naturalization can be completed. You must be at least 20 years old and have lived in Japan for five consecutive years. You must also have a clean record and be able to prove that you can support yourself financially (if you don't have a job you must prove that you are employable). Finally, you must show that you have never taken negative action against the Government of Japan. Being able to speak Japanese is a de facto, if not technical, requirement.

  • Fill out and submit an application. In order to complete an application for naturalization you must make an appointment with the Legal Affairs Bureau or District Legal Affairs Bureau. At this appointment you will be instructed on how to fill out the naturalization application and told which documents are required to support your application. These documents often include birth certificates, a list of all your prior addresses, family records (marriage, divorce, and death), proof of employment and earnings, Japanese tax records, and passport size photos.

  • Wait for a decision from the Ministry of Justice. It can take anywhere from six months to a year-and-a-half for a decision on your naturalization application to be made. You will be notified of the Ministry's decision, and if the decision is positive the Ministry will place a notice in your local newspaper. You are now a Japanese citizen, and can apply for a passport. At this stage you must also inform the country of your prior citizenship of your intent to give up that citizenship per Japanese nationality law.

Tips & Warnings

  • Japanese nationality law does not permit dual citizenship. If you apply for and are granted Japanese citizenship, you automatically forfeit your original nationality.


  • Photo Credit passport image by peter Hires Images from
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