Japan’s Invisible Citizens
There are estimated to be more than 10,000 children in Japan that are without legal identity usually afforded through household registration. These children are placed in an extremely vulnerable position with diminished security and inadequate access to fundamental services provided by the state. In many cases, this situation continues into adulthood where a lifetime of difficulties awaits. In this paper I argue that, Japan’s problem of unregistered children (mukosekiji) has been a matter of legislation that favours patriarchy and normative notions of family, which, combined with systemic inadequacies, has failed to adequately address the situation. I further argue that, the specific conditions of article 772 of the Japanese Civil Code restrict choice for women in unsafe circumstances such as a difficult divorce, domestic violence and reprisal from the state and, coupled with the Household Registration Law, places at risk the fundamental right of children to protection by the state and the family.