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Jus Sanguinis in Japan

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This paper examines the origin of jus sanguinis (citizenship attribution by parentage) in Japan as an illustration of the emergence of membership criteria in the modem state. Three European cases—Britain, France and Germany—provide a comparative perspective. Previous literature has tended to associate jus sanguinis with ethnic nationalism or an ethnocultural understanding of the nation. In fact, the principle of citizenship that emphasizes descent rather than birthplace appears to fit well with the image of the ethnically exclusive nature of contemporary Japanese society. However, I will argue that in Japan, as in the three European countries, the initial adoption of particular membership criteria had little to do with conceptions of nationhood or nationalism. An analysis of the factors leading to the legislation of the 1899 nationality law reveals that Japan had potentials for developing citizenship criteria with an emphasis on birthplace (jus soli) and residence (jus domicili) just as those in Britain and France. Yet a relatively strict system of jus sanguinis, as in Germany, was instituted. The paper identifies other determinants of the principle of citizenship, including legal practices prior to the emergence of the modern state, the state's efforts to organize the populations subject to its rule, and domestic and international security concerns.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Brown University, Providence, USA.

10.1163/156854298X00417
/content/journals/10.1163/156854298x00417
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/content/journals/10.1163/156854298x00417
1998-01-01
2016-12-05

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