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中野国際法務綜合事務所
〒530-0041   大阪市北区天満橋2-5-25 若杉グランドビル本館11階
TEL:06-6354-3928 FAX:06-6354-3930 E-Mail:t.nakano@legal-brain.com
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"Marriages of foreigners in Japan ①" July 7, 2003
 Good evening. From this month, we will be talking about immigration related issues 
concerning the marriages of foreigners in Japan, which is commonly called here as 
International marriage or "Kokusai-Kekkon". 
 
 Marriges of foreigners in Japan become an issue because of the differences in 
the laws governing marriage of each country. The differences in the required 
documents and the issue as to which of the country's law shall govern the marriage 
usually make the matter very complicated. Cases vary depending on the concerned 
couple to be married. The couple can be a foreigner that can marry the Japanese 
national, or they can be both foreigners of the same nationality or different 
nationalities. So, how to go about getting married in Japan is a question frequently 
asked by foreigners in Japan.

 The first thing that the concerned couples must know is about the laws that will 
govern their marriage. In Japan, there is the so-called "Junkyo-hou" which means 
the governing law for a particular case. And the law that will define the "Junkyo-
hou" is the "Hourei", literally translated the law on the applicability of the laws in 
general. The "Hourei" distinguishes a case in better means which country's law 
should apply for a particular case. "Hourei" complies rules concerning the date of 
execution of loss, rules concerning the validation of customary law, and rules of 
private International law or "Kokusai Shihou".
 Under the private international law, the differences in the legislatures of different 
countries are taken into consideration and adjusted for each case. Talking about 
the applicable law for the act of marriage article 13 of "Hourei" states that one, 
the law of their home country shall govern the requirements for a legal marriage of 
a couple. Second, the law of the country where the ceremony of the marriage will 
be held shall govern the formalities of the marriage. Third, not withstanding the first 
and second statements, the formalities that satisfy the requirements of either of 
the party's national law shall be effected unless the marriage is celebrated in Japan 
and one of the parties is a Japanese national. When the couple of different 
nationalities is getting married in Japan, they need to meet the requirements for a 
marriage as defined by the laws of their home country. When it comes to the act of 
marriage, let's say the type of ceremony, it can be carried out in accordance with 
the Japanese legislatures, or that of each home country. But, when one of the 
couples is a Japanese national, the couple must comply with the procedures 
defined by Japan's law for an effective marriage in Japan. 

 The requirements to validate a marriage or "Jijsshitsu-teki Seiritsu-Youken" in 
Japanese include the need to meet the legal age to marry. And in case of minors, 
they need to have a parent consent. These requirements vary with each country. 
Under Japan's law, men are allowed to marry by the age of 18 and women by the 
age of 16. However, as anybody under the age of 20 are still considered as minors 
in Japan, parent consent is strictly observed for those who wish to be married 
under the age of 20. Meanwhile, Italian law provides that the legal age to marry for 
men is 16 and 14 for women. Also, there are countries that don't permit marriage 
between cousins and bigamist. There are also countries that define a certain period 
restricting an individual to remarry. A marriage may be free from any religious 
prohibitions in some countries but not in others. In short, if you are planning to get 
married with somebody who has different nationalities from yours, it may be wise to 
know the details about the requirements of each respective country so as to 
validate your marriage.

 Now, let's know about the formalities or procedures for a marriage to be effected. 
In Japan, simply holding a wedding ceremony can't validate a marriage unless you 
have it registered in any of the municipal office. In short, a marriage in Japan only 
comes into an effect when the marriage registration form is submitted to a 
municipal office in accordance with the census registration law, in Japanese "Kon-in
-Todoke". While in the Philippines, a marriage solonized in a church or a temple is 
legally valid under the Philippine law, as the municipal office will be notified before 
the marriage. Again, article 13 of "Hourei" states that a couple can be married in 
Japan by submitting the marriage registration form to a municipal office in Japan 
where the wedding ceremony was held or they can be married under the law of 
their home country. However, if one of the couples is a Japanese national, it is a 
must for the couple to register their marriage in any of their municipal office in 
Japan. Otherwise, their marriage will be invalid and banned under Japan's law. When 
the couple to be married is both foreigners, they have the options whether to get 
married in Japan in accord to Japan's law or to be married under the law of their 
home country. If the couple of foreign nationality chose to marry under Japan's 
law, they are still advised to notify their respective embassy or consulate in Japan 
to have their marriage registered in their home country. Otherwise, their marriage 
will only be effective within Japan.

 So far, we have talked about the applicable laws for marriages concerning 
foreigners in Japan. Now, let's move on to the type of documents that one needs 
to prepare. The most important document that one needs to prepare before a 
marriage can be performed is the "Kon-in Youken Gubi Shoumei-sho" or the 
certificate of legal capacity to marry which is issued by your respective embassy 
or consulate in Japan or by the responsible ministry of the home country. The "Kon
-in Youken Gubi Shoumei-sho" certifies the concerned to be of legal age to marry, 
to be single and have no commitment to others and to be free to marry without 
doubt as defined by the law of the respective country. If the foreigners to be 
married is from the countries of South Korea and Taiwan that has the family 
registration system like that of Japan, a copy of his family register or certifying the 
eligibility of the concerned to be married. However, countries like Pakistan, 
Bangladesh, and India neither have the family registration system nor do they issue 
the certificate of legal capacity to marry. In such cases, an affidavit or "Sensei- 
Kyoujutsu-sho" stating that the concerned is single and free to marry down before 
the respective country's ambassador or council is permissible. An alternative to 
these is a sworn statement from the father of the concerned before a notary 
public in their home country. It is then advised to consult your respective embassy 
or consulate to know which of these documents is preferable. The other required 
documents include a copy of the family register in the case of a Japanese national 
and in the case of a foreign national, a certification of the for documentation of his 
or her alien registration card. Also, as the certificate of legal capacity to marry or 
the affidavit is written in your native language, or in a language that is different 
from Japanese, it is then a must to attach its Japanese translation. A copy of the 
foreigner's passport is also a must.

 All the documents I just mentioned together with a marriage registration form or "
Kon-in Todoke" shall then be submitted to the municipal office governing the 
residence of the concerned. Registration of a marriage can be done either on 
Sundays or at night. If you don't have the time to do the marriage registration in 
person, you can also send all the requirements by mail. The documents submitted 
to the municipal office will then be truly examined and once all the documents are 
found in order, the municipal office will issue the certificate of acceptance of the 
notification of marriage, in Japanese "Juri shoumei-sho". Since the officials and 
the municipal office may not be familiar with all the different legislatures of 
different countries and would need time to verify each marriage of a foreign 
national in Japan with the Ministry of Justice, there could be some delay on the 
issue ones on the certificate of acceptance of the notification of marriage. When 
the concerned receive the certificate, it is the duty of the foreign national to 
provide his respective embassy or consulate a copy of the certificate. 
Subsequently, it becomes necessary for the foreign national to apply for a change 
of resident status at the immigration office to that of spouse visa or dependent 
visa. If the concerned is a non in or depending on the case of the applicant. 
 Well, That's all for today. If you have any inquiry, you can contact Mr. Nakano by 
phone at 06-6354-0900. 06-6354-0900. Or file fax at 06-6354-3930. And of 
course, you can send us a fax at 06-6615-.7651. 06-6615-7651. Or through the e-
mail at "online@cocolo.co.jp", "online @cocolo.co.jp".