Actually Formally Applying to Naturalise

Today, I formally applied to naturalise in Japan.

I went to the Legal Affairs Office in Kawasaki, and Yuriko met me there (we were both going from work). I arrived a bit early, but my case worker soon came to speak to me. First, she took all my application documents off me, and took them into the Nationality Consultation Room to look through them. That took her about twenty minutes, while I waited. Yuriko arrived just after she had finished checking, and she said that she would speak to me first. (As I mentioned before, they speak to the husband and wife separately, to make sure the marriage is genuine.)

The first thing she asked me was whether I was happy to give up my UK citizenship. I said I’d prefer not to, but that I understood it was necessary, so I would. We also discussed the absence of a certificate of citizenship, but as the UK will no longer issue those, it wasn’t an immediate problem. The Justice Ministry may ask about it later. Next, there was a short list of extra documents she wanted. I need my 2013 tax return as well as the 2014 one, and the proof of Yuriko’s income, and a couple more documents about my family for the family record. When I submit these, I only need to submit one copy, and photocopies are fine for most of them. (The proof of Yuriko’s income needs to be the original.)

Then she started going through the documents. There was a short discussion to confirm the katakana spelling of my parents’ names on my family record, if I am allowed to naturalise, and the way that my previous name will be written. She wanted to confirm the county I was born in, and I got a bit stuck, because it’s Greater Manchester now, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t when I was born. (Wikipedia confirms that I was right; I was born in Cheshire.) She is going to look into that for me, because it needs to be right according to the Japanese government, which may not be exactly the same as what the UK government thinks. Then she asked who was going to be the first name on the family record. That was something I hadn’t realised. Apparently, I can choose to be added to Yuriko’s current family record, or to create a new family record, with me at the top, and have Yuriko and Mayuki added to that. As I didn’t know about this complication, I hadn’t talked about it with Yuriko, so we postponed a decision on that. She wanted to know which school Mayuki was going to, and was a bit surprised that she wasn’t going to an International School, until I told her how high the fees were. She asked what language I spoke to Mayuki in, and I explained that I talk to her in English and she replies in Japanese.

There weren’t many questions about most of the documents, just confirmation that I don’t have a driver’s licence, and a few other minor points. Most of her questions were based on my CV, which is fair enough. She asked me about the background, and for some more details. For example, she wanted to know how I became a member of the Foreign Residents’ Assembly, so I told her that it was openly advertised. (She doesn’t work for the city, so she is allowed to not know about it.) She also asked a bit about my jobs, and, of course, about how and when I met Yuriko, and the process leading up to our marriage, and she wanted to know whether we had had a wedding ceremony, and where. (If you are marrying a Japanese citizen and think you might want to naturalise later, have a ceremony. It helps make the wedding look real.)

My interview took about 45 minutes, and then I came out while Yuriko went in. Her interview took about 20 minutes, and I asked her about it afterwards. She said it was more like a friendly chat, and that, while they did talk about where we met, and our wedding ceremony, and how Yuriko’s parents felt about our marriage, they also talked about Mayuki and I speaking a mix of Japanese and English, and about the choice of characters for my name. Yuriko mentioned that Mayuki was strongly opposed to a kanji surname, and the case officer agreed. She said Mayuki was really cute, and the current balance of her name suited her. My case officer once again wondered why I would want to take Japanese citizenship. I should emphasise that this wasn’t in any way a hostile “Why do you think you can become Japanese?” attitude, but rather “Why would you want to become Japanese?”. I think the Japanese still have a bit of an inferiority complex.

Now, I think that one reason for Yuriko’s relaxed interview was that there is nothing suspicious-looking about our marriage. One of the big documentary things is that we are joint owners of the flat. But I suspect that another reason is that this is actually an effective way to catch false marriages. By picking up on things that were mentioned in passing, it is easy to spot people who haven’t very carefully prepared their stories.

In any case, after Yuriko’s interview, she was ready to accept the application, so I was called back into the room, and I sat down at the table.

I signed my oath to respect the constitution, and signed my application forms. She accepted them.

While she was off getting my acceptance number (which I need to include on all future correspondence), Yuriko and I talked about who would be on top of the family record. We quickly concluded that it probably wouldn’t make any difference to anything practical, so in the end we decided based on how we felt.

Finally, my case worker explained a bit about what will happen next. If she has any questions, or needs any more documents, she will phone me. She will also phone me when she has sorted out my county of birth, to confirm that it is OK. Similarly, if I have any questions, I should phone her. I also need to phone her if I move, get divorced, Yuriko gets pregnant, I change jobs, and so on. Basically, if anything major changes on the application, I need to tell her. I also need to tell her when I leave the country, and when I get back. There is no problem with my leaving (as long as I have a passport), but it is policy not to grant permission while someone is out of the country, so they need to know whether I am. I suspect that there would be a problem if you were barely in Japan during your application, as well. One thing she mentioned was that the authorities take a very dim view of hiding important things from them. This was in the context of saying that, in our case, we didn’t need to tell her if Yuriko changed jobs (because she is in the process of starting a new one), because Yuriko’s employment is not a significant part of the application, so the point is that they want an accurate picture of your life, not one that is completely precise about all the details. I imagine that, if they want details about some thing, they will ask. She said that she would like the remaining documents by the end of April, if at all possible, which suggests to me that she expects to send the the application package to the Ministry of Justice in that sort of time frame. I have no idea how long it will take once it gets to them, of course, and after that I have to wait for my renunciation of UK citizenship to go through. So far, it has taken a little less than four months from my first phone call to the Legal Affairs Office to the formal acceptance of my application.

Incidentally, you may have noticed that I formally applied on Friday 13th. However, today is also Taian, the luckiest day of the Japanese fortune-telling cycle. Today is unlucky for the UK, lucky for Japan…






15 responses to “Actually Formally Applying to Naturalise”

  1. habib avatar

    hi Mr.David

    I would like to ask about the interview for those who are marrid to japanese, i heard that there will interview me and my japanese husband separately ,what kind of questions will they ask him? do they ask deep detailed questions about my relationship with him and my family who are living overses? or its just soft simple questions about daily life about me and my husband?

  2. David Chart avatar
    David Chart

    Every case is different. My understanding is that the aim is to establish that the relationship is genuine. In our case, we had been married and living together in a jointly-owned property for almost ten years, with our daughter, so the questions were not terribly probing. I suspect that they might ask more detailed questions if the relationship was shorter duration, or you weren’t living together. Similarly, my understanding is that your relationship with your family overseas is not important in itself, but that it is a sign of a real relationship if they know about the marriage (even if they don’t approve: for these purposes, “My family refuse to speak to me because I married a Japanese man” is evidence of a real relationship).

    Bear in mind that I am not a lawyer, I have only done this once, and that everyone’s case is different.

  3. viki In tokyo avatar
    viki In tokyo

    Hi David , How are you ? Last november I submitted all the papers and signed the oath after which they gave me case number and officer name. Since then there has been no contact from them. Will there be any interview ? or home check etc? Wonder how long the result takes these days too.

  4. David Chart avatar
    David Chart

    Thanks for the comment. I have no idea how long the process is taking at the moment, but it took several months for me, and I heard nothing at all between signing the oath and seeing my name in Kanpo. So, everything sounds normal so far. There may be an interview or home check, but my understanding is that those normally happen before the final signing of the oath and submission of everything. You probably just have to wait a bit longer.

  5. viki In tokyo avatar
    viki In tokyo

    Thanks a lot David. Much appreciated.

  6. Lost in Japan avatar
    Lost in Japan

    Thanks for this post, it’s really helped relieve some pre-interview anxiety.

    Not sure if you’ll see this Vivi, but I also signed and completed the oath with my application submission *before* my interview house visit.
    I had thought I was the only case of this, because I hadn’t read anyone else online who’d signed prior to final interview. Interesting, nonetheless. Maybe it’s a slight shift in how they’re doing things, or perhaps our applications had a common factor that allowed this.

    In any case, I submitted Feb 2020 and I have my final interview and house visit scheduled for May. I’d suggest calling the ???. It can’t hurt, and you can always cite concern over the timing due to the virus if you’re worried about having a good reason to call.
    Good luck!

  7. viki In tokyo avatar
    viki In tokyo

    Hi Lost in Japan ,

    I actually had in interview at their office in April and also a japanese language test ! They were not so happy with my performance in the test (I thought I did well) but they said they are gonna submit it anyway and asked me to wait till october for results. I had no home check though, probably because I am not single? Not sure. I wonder if my performance in the language test will affect my results

  8. William avatar

    Hi viki,

    It seems that we’re in the same boat. I submitted my documents on April 22nd and did the Japanese test at the same time. No problem with my documents nor the test. However, I haven’t heard anything from them since then. No house visit either.

    Have you got any news yet? I heard that because of Covid19, all citizenship-related process will be slower than usual at least 2 months.

    By the way, could you please tell me where you submitted your documents? I submitted them at Maebashi Chihou Houmukyoku, Gunma Prefecture

  9. viki in tokyo avatar
    viki in tokyo

    Hi William,

    No,no news yet. Is April 22nd your application date? if yes, then you should have had an final interview by now. My submission was in Nov 2019, and had my final interview & test in April 2020.

    I submitted mine in Tokyo! Mine will probably take more time then.

  10. William avatar

    Hi viki

    Yes, April 22nd is my application date (I suppose it’s the date that I submit my package and they accept it without any problem)

    Suppose 6-month period is the least amount of time between package submission and final interview (I usually see this pattern a lot on ???), I think I’ll have my interview around December because of Covid-19 (2-month delay)

    I also heard that Tokyo and Yokohama Houmukyoku are the most slowest in terms of naturalization simply because there are too many people applying here

  11. viki in tokyo avatar
    viki in tokyo

    It does look a late for you or perhaps there might not be a final interview or visit . I guess the process seems to vary from individual to individual. Only thing we can do is wait and hopefully get it ! 🙂

  12. viki in tokyo avatar
    viki in tokyo

    Actually I had gotten a call a week back and was asked to the take the Japanese test again. I took it today and I got 100% this time ( last time I think got 60-70%). So they said the result should come in a couple of weeks. Crossing my fingers!

  13. William avatar

    Congratulations viki. Good news will come to you. I haven’t had any news yet. Still waiting ?

  14. viki in tokyo avatar
    viki in tokyo

    Actually got a call again today to confirm any change in my situation , so looks positive and the result should be in soon !

  15. viki in tokyo avatar
    viki in tokyo

    Btw I saw my name in the kanpou today ! Looks like I am finally Japanese 🙂

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