International marriage (Japan)
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This article is about marriage between a Japanese and a non-Japanese in accordance with the formalities provided by the law of Japan or of a foreign land. Procedures and rules mentioned in this article are mainly those of Japan, but in some cases other requirements are imposed by the homeland of the non-Japanese, or by the foreign land where the concerned couple marry.
- 1 In General
- 2 History
- 3 Homeland law
- 4 Required translation
- 5 Legal documents
- 6 Japanese regulations
- 7 International marriage in accordance with the formality of a foreign land
- 8 See also
- 9 References
The legality of a marriage for each spouse is determined by the homeland law of the spouse.
Marriage between a Japanese national and a non-Japanese person was first officially permitted by act of law on March 14 1873 (6th year of the Meiji Period). This day is informally known as International Marriage Day (国際結婚の日) and coincides with the modern White Day.
Entering law before the former Meiji Constitution (1889) and the former Nationality Law (1899), international marriage at the time required both a permit and surrender of recognised social standing (分限).
According to an Act of Japan on general rules,
- The homeland law of a person is the law of the country of citizenship of the person.
- If a person has more than one citizenship, and if one of the citizenships is Japan, the homeland law is the law of Japan;
- If a person has more than one citizenship, and none of them is Japanese, the homeland law of the person is the law of the country where the person habitually lives.
- as to a concerned person with nationality of a nation in which laws are different according to locality (like the US), the homeland law is the local law under rules of the nation or, if the nation doesn't have such rules, the homeland law is the law of the local area which is most closely related to the person.
Each paper, document mentioned in this article as required by Japan, if not written in Japanese, needs to be accompanied with translation into Japanese; one of the concerned persons can themself be the translator; their name must accompany the translation.
When a Japanese and a non-Japanese are intending to marry 
- in accordance with Japanese rules, homeland certification is required regarding the concerned non-Japanese that they are permitted to marry (see the related section below);
- in accordance with foreign law, certification by Japan may also be required.
If a couple including a Japanese citizen marry in Japan, the marriage is to be in accordance with Japanese law. Thus Japan requires notification of the marriage. Japan's diplomatic establishments abroad can not legally accept a notification of a marriage of this type.
Competence certification as to the concerned non-Japanese
Japan requires competence certification as to the concerned non-Japanese, as a paper in principle, to be submitted; if the homeland (state / nation) is one which doesn't issue this certification,
- if he / she swears in the presence of the homeland's consul in Japan that he / she has legal competence under the homeland law to get married with a Japanese, the written oath signed by the consul might be the substitute for this certification paper;
- if even the substitutes can not be submitted, a copy of the homeland law on marriage with its source clarified, and identity certification(s) issued by the homeland's official institution(s) such as a passport, are required instead.
The fact the Japanese got married with the non-Japanese is to be recorded in a family register with the concerned Japanese written at its head; if the Japanese is one not written at the head, a new family register for the concerned couple is to be created.
While a rule of Japan for the common surname (i.e. family name) is not applied to the couple, the concerned Japanese can change his / her surname to that of the concerned non-Japanese spouse by filing notification as such; this notification, if not within 6 months of the day the marriage got effective, needs an advance permission by a family court.
International marriage in accordance with the formality of a foreign land
This section is about marriage between a Japanese and a non-Japanese in accordance with the formality of a foreign land (state / nation).
Competence certification as to the concerned Japanese
If competence certification as to the concerned Japanese is required, the Japanese can request this certification as a paper
- issued in Japanese of a Legal Affairs Bureau (法務局?);
- issued in Japanese of the municipality of the domicile of family register (本籍地の市町村?);
- issued in a foreign language of a Japan's diplomatic establishment abroad (日本の在外公館?);
Certification as to the marriage
By a delivery of an authorized copy of certification as to the marriage issued by the foreign land (state / nation), the marriage is regarded under law of Japan as one in accordance with the formality of the foreign land.
Japan requires the authorized copy of certification as to the marriage
- to be submitted to a Japan's diplomatic establishment abroad (日本の在外公館?), or,
- to be sent by post or submitted to the municipality of the domicile of family register (本籍地の市町村?),
within 3 months of the day the marriage got effective; when the authorized copy of certification is legally accepted, the fact the Japanese got married with the non-Japanese is to be recorded in the family register of the concerned Japanese.'
- Act on general rules for application of law (法の適用に関する通則法?) (Act No.78 of 2006): Chapter 3: Sections 5 and 7. The last effective revision was enforced on 1 January 2007.
- 法務省民事局. "国際結婚，海外での出生等に関する戸籍Ｑ＆Ａ". the site of the Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
- Family register act (戸籍法 Kosekihō?) (Act No.224 of 1947): Articles 6, 16, 74. The last effective revision was enforced on 1 October 2007.
- Civil Code (民法 Minpō?) (Act No.89 of 1896): Part IV: Chapter 2. The last effective revision was enforced on 1 January 2007.
- Ito, Masami, "Marriage ever-changing institution", Japan Times, November 3, 2009.
- The Japan Children's Rights Network - http://www.crnjapan.net