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Court rules in favor of Japan's ban on dual nationality

Court rules in favor of Japan's ban on dual nationality

A Japanese court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit challenging the country's ban on its citizens from holding foreign nationality, in what is believed to be the first judicial decision on the matter. In a lawsuit filed with the Tokyo District Court in 2018, eight men and women in their 30s to 80s who were born in Japan but now live in Europe claimed a legal requirement that Japanese who gain foreign nationality must give up their citizenship violates the Constitution. The government, however, argued the plaintiffs' claim takes no note of national interests, as permitting dual citizenship would enable people to have voting rights or diplomatic protection in other countries. Dual citizenship "could cause conflict in the rights and obligations between countries, as well as between the individual and the state," said Presiding Judge Hideaki Mori. According to the suit, the eight plaintiffs -- six who have acquired Swiss or Liechtenstein nationality and two others who plan to obtain Swiss or French nationality to facilitate their work and lives -- hope to maintain their Japanese citizenship. Article 11 of the nationality law states that Japanese citizens who acquire non-Japanese nationality on their own instigation automatically lose their Japanese nationality, effectively banning dual citizenship. The plaintiffs claimed that the law was originally designed for purposes such as avoiding overlapping military service obligations imposed by multiple nations. "The court did not seriously consider the feelings of Japanese living abroad," Swiss resident Hitoshi Nogawa, 77, who led the plaintiffs, said following the ruling. As many countries in the world, including the United States, now allow dual citizenship, the clause stripping people of Japanese nationality violates the Constitution, which guarantees the right to pursue happiness and the equality under the law, the plaintiffs said. The issue of dual nationality in Japan drew global attention when tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, who had both Japanese and U.S. citizenship, selected Japanese nationality just before turning 22 in 2019. She was born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father. The law requires those who acquired dual nationalities under 20 years old to choose one by age 22, and those who obtained them at age 20 or older to select one within two years. The nationality law also requires Japanese citizens who obtain foreign citizenship to notify the government of their abandonment of Japanese nationality. But as it includes no penalties, many Japanese are believed to have maintained multiple passports after obtaining non-Japanese citizenship. About 518,000 Japanese are estimated to have permanent residency status in other countries as of October 2019, but the government has been unable to confirm how many of them hold multiple citizenship.

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Coronavirus

IOC's Dick Pound says spectators not a "must-have" at Tokyo Games

IOC's Dick Pound says spectators not a "must-have" at Tokyo Games

Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound on Wednesday reaffirmed his belief the Tokyo Games will happen this summer despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying the Olympics can go ahead without fans in attendance. "The question is, is this a 'must-have' or 'nice-to-have.' It's nice to have spectators. But it's not a must-have," Pound told Kyodo News. "Nobody can guarantee (that the Olympics will go ahead as planned). But I think there's a very, very, good chance that they can, and that they will," he said. International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound speaks during an online interview. (Kyodo) According to Pound, a former swimmer who has been an IOC member since 1978, there are six or seven scenarios under consideration concerning spectators, with one being that only Japanese residents will be permitted to attend events. "It's certainly one option...In the end, the decision will be based on risk. And the bottom line, they say, is that it's better to have the games, even if there are no spectators, than it would be to cancel them because there are no spectators," the 78-year-old Pound said. The Canadian said in a telephone interview in July that shutting out international spectators would run counter to the Olympics' cosmopolitan spirit, and it was not on the cards at the time. In March last year, Pound predicted the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be postponed because of the coronavirus before the decision to push the games to 2021 was announced by the IOC and the organizing committee. Despite mounting public pressure for a cancellation amid a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases worldwide, the IOC and organizers have already said another postponement is impossible, leaving cancellation or opening on July 23 as the only options. "I think the IOC and the organizers are committed to going ahead with the games, if at all possible. And so they're not going to cancel unless there's a consensus among the government, health authorities and the IOC that it would be too dangerous," Pound said Wednesday. "But at the moment, the plans are in place. All the indications are that we should go ahead. There's no reason why the games can't go on." Pound said the torch relay, set to start on March 25 in Fukushima Prefecture, could be shortened or canceled if necessary but hopes it can go ahead with safe social distancing measures implemented as it builds excitement in the run-up to the Olympics. Currently, a state of emergency is in place for Tokyo and 10 other prefectures. The Japanese capital has reported nearly 90,000 coronavirus cases so far, and the country has confirmed more than 340,000 infections and 4,700 deaths from COVID-19. A recent Kyodo News poll showed that 80 percent of Japanese residents surveyed believe the Olympics should be canceled or rescheduled, up from 61 percent in the previous survey conducted in December. Pound seemed to suggest that poor communication by Japanese authorities was to blame for the public increasingly turning against the idea of hosting the event. "If the Japanese authorities were to explain a little more fully what are the new things they're doing in the face of the emergency that they've declared, people would say 'all right.'" But Pound is still convinced a scaled-down Olympics will happen this year, and the opening and closing ceremonies "will be just as exciting but just with not quite so many people on the track." As for another postponement, however, he said "it's just not possible so it's either 2021, or nothing." Related coverage: London 2012 official speculates Tokyo Games "unlikely" to happen Olympics: Japan scrambles to deny reports that cancelation possible Tokyo Olympic head says another postponement "absolutely impossible"    

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