Chris Savoie writes and asks that I explain one thing about Japanese dual-citizenship.

This is a follow-up to Tuesday’s post.

In that post, I had mentioned about the little chestnut of a problem that Americans face if they seek Japanese citizenship. America does not have a rule against dual or multi-citizenships. The presumption is that you will honor your American citizenship and the laws the country (the rest of us) impose on you. And, when you come back into this country, you come back on your American passport.

But the Japanese have a different rule: they really just want you to have the one passport, Japanese, unless you have either been grandfathered in or meet some other exception.

What Chris is telling me, is that some Americans will meet this exception because of a United States tax rule, referred to as “Section 877″. The gist of this rule is that America doesn’t want people giving up citizenship in order to get around paying taxes to the Treasury. There were a few, very wealthy, individuals who did this in the 1990’s, and it made news. So Congress wrote a few presumptions into the law, if you decide to turn in your American citizenship, and this rule now also pulls in people who aren’t renouncing for a tax-related reason.

As Chris explained:

. . . since you are able to understand the law maybe you can help silence this ridiculous “grey area” about my nationality “problem”. Please read the attached. Then you can look up the statutes too. Basically I am a victim of my own success. I was subject to 877 which was bad and I am now subject to 877a. (see attachment).

The Japanese government was FULLY aware of my US nationality AND the tax code complication when I got my Japanese nationality. Put simply I made more money tha[n] most Americans who seek to acquire Japanese citizenship . . .

They told me *explicitly* that it would not be a problem not to expatriate from the US as far as houmusho was concerned because this was not my fault and that it was a valid reason for me to not be able to complete my “endeavor” to denounce any of my nationalities. This tax code puts me at a special unfair disadvantage compared to all other Japanese citizen, so it would be unreasonable to force something not specifically required by statute to happen (expatriation by a date certain) . . .

So, according to Chris, the reason that the Japanese government said it was OK not to turn in the American passport, is that the rule in America is that it would be presumed that Chris was trying to dodge taxes, which he was not.

It sounds like this was Japan’s call, and if that’s how they called it, then those of you who are on that particular point, here is what Chris has to say. I can only add that, yes, there is such a tax rule about giving up your U.S. citizenship.

What I think people should also consider, on the citizenship issue, is what it means to be a citizen. It’s not about sticking a goofy flag button on your lapel. It’s more about how you watch out for the rest of us. Without much effort, I could easily count on both hands the number of Americans I met, either in Japan, or with some connection to Japan, who screw us everyday. Oh, yes, they’re American all right. But they might as well be part of some other country.

You have prominent former Americans, though, who do more to look out after our interests, than purported real Americans do. (Chris, who is the subject of the post, is dual, so this is not going directly to him. But how many Americans have made the technical kidnapping of children to Japan a state issue? If you get out your fingers, you might not make it to ten.)

To me, trying to get Japanese dual citizenship, when the Japanese themselves don’t particularly honor that sort of thing but in the exception, just confuses things. That’s just me, though. Apparently the real rule is applied on a case-by-case basis.