I heart Japanese bureaucracy

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This morning I set off to secure my daughter her Japanese citizenship. The three-month time limit that began at her birth is tomorrow. Let no one say I don’t meet my deadlines.

Anyway, here’s what the local ward office needed from me:

1. A two-page form covered in monkey scratch registering my marriage to Kana’s dad in 1996 B.C., which I had never bothered to do because I don’t live here.
2. My marriage certificate, plus a form translating it into Japanese.
3. Two copies each of Chris’s passport, both the current one and the one at the time of our marriage.
4. A form explaining the delay.
5. A two-page form filled with more monkey scratch registering Kana’s birth.
6. Her original birth certificate plus two copies of its translation. (Is Bergen County a “ku” or a “shi”? This question takes 20 minutes and three government workers to solve.)
7. A vital organ, a working limb and three of Kana’s toenail clippings.

For a country with a birthrate that assures its people’s extinction as a race within the century, Japan sure does make it hard to become a citizen. Know how you become a citizen in America? You get born. You pop out of the womb somewhere within its borders, and howdy do, you’ve got yourself a passport. A lot of folks have a problem with this, of course. And now I see a downside: jobs. Japan’s numbing bureaucracy keeps a good chunk of the populace employed, if only to push pencils around on paper.

Normally I’d complain. Today, I don’t care. It’s done; I did it; I scaled this mountain of forms. My second daughter is a dual citizen of both Japan and the U.S. Mama would be so proud.

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Say konnichiwa to my blue-eyed Japanese baby.

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