The Ruling

Last August 4 Batis YOGHI, Batis Center for Women, DAWN and Maligaya House, all organizations that focus on issues of migrant women from Japan and Japanese-Filipino children (JFCs), held a press conference regarding Japan’s Supreme Court ruling on the acquisition of Japanese nationality.  The Supreme Court ruled that the provision requiring parents to be married in order for their children to acquire Japanese nationality is unconstitutional. Japan favored the rights of the ten children to be recognized as citizens.

The decision was made due to the case filed by ten JFCs who were asking to be recognized as Japanese Citizens. The four organizations tackled different concerns with regard to the ruling.

Maligaya House with attorney Kondo explained the ruling as well as the case of the ten JFCs asking for Japanese nationality. Attorney Kondo was the one who handled the case in Japan.

DAWN discussed the results of the survey they conducted together with the Center for Japanese-Filipino Children’s Assistance (CJFCA). The respondents included 100 Filipino women with JFCs and 56 JFCs.

From the survey, it was found out that most of the women met the Japanese fathers of their children in the clubs where they worked. Also, less than half of the women were married to the Japanese fathers of their children. Most were married in the Philippines while, close to one-third of them submitted a marriage report to Japan.

The survey also revealed that most of the JFC respondents were born in the Philippines where most of their births were registered.

Batis Center, discussed the positive and negative outcomes that may be brought out by the Supreme Court ruling while the Batis YOGHI (Youth Organization that Gives Hope and Inspiration) gave a more grounded situation of the JFCs, resulting from their Nationality Discussion Part II.

A Door Opened to the JFCs

From the Nationality Discussion, the Batis YOGHI identified three concerns regarding the ruling.

First, the YOGHI lauds the ruling made by the Supreme Court. This ruling recognizes the right to nationality of children without discrimination and regardless of the marital status of the parents as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides. A door is opened for the JFCs due to this ruling.

Also, YOGHI laud the ruling because it recognized the ability of the youth to make choices and identify the repercussions of such choices.

Finally, however, it came out during the course of the discussion that the children were mainly concerned about the recognition of their Japanese fathers as questions were mainly pertaining to how they can be recognized by their fathers and not so much on how to acquire Japanese nationality.

The Other Side of the Door

Though the ruling is laudable, there are still a lot of repercussions to be considered. Even before the ruling was made, there was news already that Japan opened for the entry of youth with Japanese ancestry.

Recruitment agencies then started sprouting like mushrooms claiming to help JFCs get to Japan. The said agencies promised work among many things. With this legal battle won the number of agencies especially illegal ones could gain numbers. According to Batis Center Executive Director, Andrea Anolin “with the drastic reduction of OFWs deployed to Japan, the Supreme Court decision might lead people to conclude that there is now a market for JFCs to work in Japan. Many JFCs and their mothers who continue to struggle in life might become vulnerable to unscrupulous elements who will take advantage of their difficult plight to recruit them for possible exploitative work in Japan.”

The case of the ten JFCs who were recognized as citizens differs from the situation of JFCs who grew up in the Philippines. For one the ten JFCs granted with citizenship grew up in Japan, giving them advantage for they knew already the language and culture of Japan.

At present a lot of JFCs in the Philippines are seeking Japanese citizenship because they perceive that they will be more privileged there economically. From the discussion it turned out that the young Japanese-Filipinos want to go to Japan to gain access to education and to be able to land jobs as there are less employment opportunities here in the Philippines.

However, this poses some problems because usually they fall prey to illegal recruiters. Most of the time, they end up as laborers in factories without the guarantee of enjoying the same rights of a Japanese citizen.

What We Should Do

With the repercussions in mind, there is an agreement among the young Japanese-Filipinos of YOGHI that there should be an information-dissemination campaign regarding the nationality issue since education empowers people.

Also, the Batis YOGHI also agrees to open its organization to membership and alliances to be able to facilitate discussion about this issue.

Most importantly, the YOGHI agrees to identify and recognize the issues that have spurred the reason why they want to be a Japanese national whether it is for economic reasons or an issue of recognition by their Japanese fathers.

Nationality is not something that we acquire when opportunity arises and then suppress when it is no longer advantageous.

We are not simply the Japanese-Filipino youth, though we have issues special to us we are also part of the comprehensive sector of the youth. We face challenges along with our fellows. The issue of nationality shouldn’t be made to constrict and limit the JFCs for this is not their sole issue. What we should be doing is to help the JFCs understand their issues in order to mobilize them and help them make wise decisions.