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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Japanese Citizenship

Here in Canada, there is kerfuffle about three permanent residents of Canada who are looking for Canadian citizenship, but are challenging the legal requirement whereby they have to pledge allegiance to the Queen.

The Queen is Queen Elizabeth II, Canada's monarch, along with the rest of the Commonwealth, and yes, we got our independence a while ago whereby we don't have to pay tithes or royalties or whatever to England et al...  but we are still a part of the British Empire.

Myself and my parents, all my aunts and uncles and a few cousins are immigrants to Canada.

We left India looking what we considered a better country to raise our family... with better education... better jobs... better homes... better everything, really. Whether that is true or not - that Canada is better than India - is really an opinion of the people who leave or stay.

But when each of of was afforded the honour (I'm spelling it with the 'u' in it because I'm Canadian) of becoming a Canadian citizen, we each jumped at the opportunity, because that's what it was... an honour and an opportunity.

And let me tell you... growing up Brown in Canada in the late 1960s and 1970s... it was no bed of roses.

People would question your worth based on the colour of your skin. You'd be called every racist name in the book applicable to someone of your 'race'. You'd be involved in so many fights you can't even recall how many. Seriously. I can't.

Even now... if someone cuts me off when driving and I yell at them to learn how to drive, half the time someone will retort with a racial reply and tell me in their thick European accent to go back where i came from. I do not have an accent - except the Canadian one.

But I love Canada, despite a few warts. It's my home and native land, baby. Japan was also home for the three years I lived there, but I knew I could not really become Japanese, as my heart was in Canada. I do think I left a part of my heart in Japan... or at the very least carted back a part of Japan's soul in my luggage.

But Canada... Hell... I even named my son Hudson... after Henry Hudson who helped form the Hudson Bay Company that set up trading posts across Canada which established Canada - then known as British North America - as a viable land that Great Britain could exploit (yes... it did)... but one which GB also allowed to grow to become this great nation upon which I write these blogs.

The Hudson Bay Company (Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson), is  s the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world, getting its charter in 1670. 

This immigrant - me - isn't an immigrant. I have always wanted to be Canadian, and I am Canadian.

The fact that three idiots refuse to obey the rules and refuse to pledge allegiance to the Queen is nothing short of treason, in my mind, and is a slap to my face.

Look... I understand the need to stand up against a social or moral injustice when the people are being trampled upon by the ruling nation.. case in point the United States and Great Britain... despite me joking that those Americans should all have been hanged for treason, I totally respect them standing up against the bullying of the British monarchy. More power to you.

But this... there is no bullying from the British monarchy... this pledging of allegiance to the Queen is part of what all Canadians go through to become Canadian citizens.

These three individuals--Michael McAteer, Simone Topey and Dror Bar-Natan--want to be Canadians but their act of defiance shows they are only interested in taking what they consider to be the good laws of Canada, and deigning not to follow ones they feel are unacceptable.

To Hell with them.

It's ridiculous in my opinion. There is no bullying going by the monarchy against their civil rights. It's just the law to pledge allegiance to the Queen and all her heirs... something we Canadians do... even if many are against Canada being a part of the British Commonwealth.

Me? I'm not. How does it change things one way or the other for Canada? We'll need new currency and stamps. I'm sure there are benefits, but I'm sure there are a lot of negatives for us... where's the harm?

It's one of those reasons why I respect Japan. If you, as a foreigner want to become a Japanese citizen - it ain't easy. It never has been, is not now, and won't be for the foreseeable future. But it's not impossible.

Let's take a gander at Japan's Nationality Law:
  • A foreigner must have permission from the justice minister;
  • Must be at least 20 years of age;
  • Must have residency in Japan for five consecutive years;
  • Must have a history of excellent conduct;
  • Must not have plans to to join groups interested in overthrowing the Constitution or the government.

And... when actually doing the paperwork to the local legal affairs bureau, you:
  • Must tell of all you relatives;
  • Must explain your livelihood, job or business;
  • Must explain why you want to be a Japanese citizen;
  • Must detail your tax payments;
  • Must take an oath.

The Houmukyoku (Legal Affairs Bureau) does a lot of work here. After you provide all of the documents, they check it for accuracy.

There is then an oral and written interview you get about one or two months after submitting the documents. These interview questions are in Japanese, and the applicant must be able to write (and read the questions) and speak in Japanese. All documents are then submitted to Tokyo for finalization.

While this is all supposed to take a six months to a year according to the Japanese Justice Ministry, many people have found it has taken about 18 months before it is granted.

As difficult as all this sounds, about 99 per cent of the people who apply to become Japanese citizens are actually granted it.

Some 2010 numbers show that of the 13,306 folks who applied, 13,072 gained it, while 234 were denied. Included in the successful category were a total of 6,600 Koreans (both North and South) and about 5,000 Chinese.

I like the part about an oath.

In Japan, I'm pretty sure that if you don't fulfill any part of the citizenship requirements, like, say not taking the oath, you ain't becoming a citizen of Japan.

These three idiots who want to become Canadian citizens can go back to where they came from if they don't want to follow the rules.

Being accepted as a citizen of a country is an honour, not a right.

Just like in every single country where there is democracy: Love it or leave it.

Andrew Joseph

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