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A foreign-born Japanese (外国生まれの日本人 gaikoku umare no nihonjin, literally "Japanese person born in a foreign country") is a Japanese person of foreign descent or heritage, who was born outside Japan and later acquired Japanese citizenship. This category encompasses persons of both Japanese and non-Japanese descent. The former subcategory is considered because of intricacies of national and international laws regarding the citizenship of newborn persons.
By Japanese laws, adult persons generally cannot hold both foreign citizenship and Japanese citizenship (dual nationality):
- those who have acquired dual nationality before age 20 must choose a single nationality before reaching age 22.
- those who have acquired dual nationality after age 20 must choose a single nationality in 2 years.
Many who naturalize as Japanese also adopt a Japanese name, since names must be chosen from a list of approved kanji. Chinese or Koreans with kanji-character names may or may not have problems in this regard.
No law forbids a foreign-born Japanese to be elected as a member of Diet; Marutei Tsurunen (born Martti Turunen in Finland) is Japan's first European foreign-born member of the Diet. Theoretically, therefore, a foreign-born Japanese can become the Prime Minister of Japan.
Probably because of the difficulty in gaining citizenship and because of cultural difference, foreign-born Japanese people account for a very small percentage of the population in Japan. Many who were born and live in Japan permanently, particularly Korean and Chinese, do not naturalize. There has been a constant discussion among the government and lawmakers whether to expand their rights of permanent residence to include provisions such as the right to vote in elections, etc. Few statistics are kept on how many Chinese and Koreans have naturalized, as such statistics are not maintained by the Japanese government. Once such a person naturalizes, they are, for all intents and purposes under the law, Japanese.
Japanese by naturalization
- Akebono Taro (b. Chad Rowan), sumo wrestler
- Bobby Ologun, TV talent
- Chen Kenmin, TV chef
- Sergio Ariel Escudero, football player
- Ofer Feldman, scholar of Japanese political psychology
- Dido Havenaar, football player
- Mike Havenaar, football player
- Hoshitango Imachi, sumo wrestler
- Koizumi Yakumo (b. Lafcadio Hearn), Meiji-era author
- Konishiki Yasokichi (b. Saleva'a Fuauli Atisano'e), sumo wrestler
- Wagner Lopes (b. Wagner Augusto Lopes), football player
- Miura Anjin (b. William Adams), Edo-era mariner
- Erikson Noguchipinto, football player
- Debito Arudou (b. David Schofill ne Aldwinckle), blogger
- Ruy Ramos (b. Ruy Gonçalves Ramos Sobrinho), soccer player
- Rikidōzan (b. Kim Sin-Nak), wrestler
- J. R. Sakuragi (b. Milton "J.R." Henderson), basketball player
- Ademir Santos, football player
- Alessandro Santos (b. Alessandro dos Santos), football player
- Marcos Sugiyama, volleyball player
- Takamiyama Daigoro, (b. Jesse James Wailani Kuhaulua), sumo wrestler
- Marutei Tsurunen (b. Martti Turunen), politician
- Batara Eto, co-founder of mixi
- Donald Keene (also known as Donarudo Kiin), scholar and translator of Japanese literature and culture
Japanese born abroad
- Takeshi Kaneshiro, actor
- Hikaru Utada, singer
- Luiz Gushiken
- Children of the Japanese abducted to North Korea during the 1970s–80s. Although the children had Korean names at birth, they were registered as Japanese and given Japanese names when they arrived in Japan along with their returning parents.