top of page

Permanent Residency VS Citizenship of Japan

If you are foreign citizens who would like to live in Japan permanently, there are two procedures which make it possible. One is Permission of Permanent Residency which make it possible for you to stay in Japan while you are still foreign nationals. Another is naturalization which give you citizenship of Japan, but you need to give up your nationality from your home country.

Some people who love to live in Japan ask me about getting citizenship while they come to my office to ask about Permanent Residency. Most of them have has Japanese families or have so many friends in Japan. So, they feel like Japan is second home country. So, it is natural for them to consider about becoming citizens of Japan.

In this article, I’ll introduce about difference between getting Permanent Residency and becoming citizen of Japan.

What is Permanent Residency

Permission of Permanent Residency is the Permission which let foreign citizens live in Japan permanently. Usually foreigners have the period of stay on their VISA status. They have to extend the period every few years. But if you are permitted for Permanent Residency, you don’t have to apply for the extension of your VISA status.

To get Permanent Residency, you need to submit the application and attached documents to an Immigration Bureau or Immigration Office in Japan. So this procedures are reviewed by an Immigration Officers who usually inspect your VISA application.

What is Naturalization?

Unlike Permanent Residency, Naturalization don’t let you to live in Japan permanently while keeping your nationality. This is the procedure to give foreign citizens permission to become the citizen of Japan.

You might think you need to go to an Immigration Bureau or Immigration Office when you apply for Naturalization. But the answer is No. You can’t apply for naturalization at an Immigration Bureau. You need to submit the documents for Naturalization at a Legal Affair Bureau(法務局).

You might consider Naturalization while you are considering Permanent Residency. Point is that there are some differences in terms of requirements. For example, you could apply for Naturalization for 5 years while you need to have 10 years living experience in Japan (Both PR and Naturalization have exceptions). I’ll explain some points to decide whether you should apply for PR or Naturalization.

1. You need to give up your current nationality when you become Japanese citizen

Japan is one of the few developed nations which does not allow their citizens to have dual citizenship. There is the discussion to open gate for dual citizenship for their citizens since people become more likely to have multi-cultural background. But the lawmakers do not make action to change their Nationality Law.

If you apply for Naturalization, you are required to give up your current nationality as Nationality Law does not accept dual citizenship.

2. You don’t have to take interview to get PR

Second point is that you don’t have to go to an Immigration Bureau to take interview by an Inspector. Once you submit the documents for Permanent Residency, the Immigration Bureau review your PR application based on what you claimed in the document and result of their research about you.

This is not the case for Naturalization. Unlike Immigration Procedures, submitting documents is not end for the procedures. After you submit the documents, you will get a chance to take interview by an Inspector. The interview is held in Japanese.

3. You need to speak Japanese for Naturalization

If you can’t speak Japanese well, you might be better to apply for Permanent Residency. Even you can’t speak Japanese, you could hire a legal professional to handle your application or use tlansrator for the attached documents.

But if you apply for Japanese, there is no way to avoid check on your language ability. There is no closure which require language ability to get Naturalization. But practically, you need to have language ability to speak Japanese to get Naturalization. When you take interview with an Inspector, the Inspector will ask questions in Japanese and might be required to take test for Japanese in some cases.

These are points to decide whether you apply for PR or Naturalization. Permanent Residency or Naturalization is life changing decision. So, I recommend you to make decision after careful reviewing.

Daichi Ito

Immigration Lawyer (Gyoseishoshi)



Read our Free newsletter

Kamakura International Legal Service is the boutique firm on Immigration Procedures. We are also eager to support foreign citizens who get rejection for their VISA application from the Immigration Bureau so they could get VISA again.

We also issue newsletter to inform current situation about the Immigration regulation and other legal matters which could be helpful for foreign citizens in Japan. If you would receive our newsletter, please send your name, nationality and address to the following e-mail address.





bottom of page