Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seeking redress from Japanese Courts

I just finished an article by Nobue Suzuki entitled Outlawed Children: Japanese Filipino Children, Legal Defiance and Ambivalent Citizenships (Pacific Affairs, Volume 83, Number 1, March 2010, pp. 31-50) which chronicled the legal battle waged by children born of Japanese men and Filipino women to acquire Japanese citizenship. Japanese law restricted citizenship in these cases only if the father acknowledged paternity before the child is born or if the parents were to marry.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of Japan declared this law unconstitutional for being discriminatory. Suzuki writes that this is only the 7th time in its history that the Court had declared a law unconstitutional. I am amazed that the Court demonstrated a willingness to strike down a decades-old law to right what they perceived to be a wrong foisted upon innocents. It stands in contrast to the plight of comfort women in the Philippines who were recently told by the Supreme Court of the Philippines that they "appear to be without a remedy to challenge those that have offended them before appropriate fora."

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