Nobel Prize Winner, Shuji Nakamura. Is he Japanese or not?

October 13, 2014 Juju Kurihara news, politics Tags: 0 Comments

nobel winnersNearly a week ago, The Royal Swedish Academy of Science announced the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2014 and the winners were three Japanese physicists, Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources.  


Watch the announcement below.


I´m not so familiar to the physics, perhaps as far away as Penny in the TV series, The Big Bang Theory but I am very happy for these Japanese physicists and am proud of them. Congratulations!

Shuji podium5But who could imagine this happy news would bring up a political issue inside Japan. This appeared when the Prime Minister Abe´s speech showed different opinion from the Japanese Embassy in the US. Apparently Mr. Nakamura holds the US citizenship and works for the University of California. 

The PM Abe made a comment, "This was the 20th, 21st and 22nd Nobel Prize for Japan and I am very happy for them". He clearly considered Mr.Nakamura as a Japanese citizen.

However, the Japanese Embassy in the US had another opinion. "Those who has obtained an US citizenship as one wished, he/she will lose the Japanese nationality the moment of acquisition of the US nationality".


000010873Is Shuji Nakamura Japanese or not? He was born and grew up in Japan by Japanese parents, so as a race he is Japanese. But now he´s got an US citizenship so politically talking he is not Japanese anymore. Japanese people are not allowed to have more than one nationality. If a baby was born between a Japanese parent and a foreign parent, the child has to decide the nationality by 22 years old. If the person acquired double nationalities, the person is given two years to decide which nationality he/she wants to keep.

Japan is encouraging the nation to clear their nationality. Is that because they consider that the people who have a double nationality are confused? This slogan, "Make it clear your nationality" certainly gives me that impression. Now the world is becoming more globalised day by day and the international marriage is so common. Forcing the children to decide their nationality seems to me a little cruel. Just like asking them to chose either their mother or father.


What is Mr.Nakamura´s opinion? He says, "For the support matter for my investigation, I´ve acquired the US nationality but I haven´t given up my Japanese nationality". He has not recognition of annulling Japanese nationality. 

According to the Family Registration Law in Japan, the person who has acquired a foreign nationality has to present the notification of nationality. And this person has three months to present this notification. Has Mr.Nakamura presented it to the Japanese Embassy? By his comment, we can assume that he hasn´t and he seems to be in the grey zone. Perhaps there are more Japanese people like him. 

TKY200812110045Actually this problem happened before when Youichiro Nambu won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for the discovery in 1960 of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics

Back then there was a movement towards acceptance of double nationality because Japan was worried about losing talented people. However no farther discussion has happened after that. This is believed that once double nationalities is accepted, Japan may need to deal with the people who hold a special permanent resident. Most of them have Korean or North Korean nationality and there are about 370,000 in Japan. It is said that that is the major concern for the Japanese government not to allow double nationalities.


Shuji Makamura may have an US passport but as long as he considers as a Japanese and as a person who represent Japan, I simply like to congratulate him as well as his two other companies. The PM Abe may have not noticed Mr.Makamura´s nationality or the Japanese Embassy didn´t understand the Family Registration Law. Who cares? Mr.Nakamura won the Nobel Prize and that is a brilliant thing whichever nationality he owns. 

Source : The Huffington Post

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