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'Stateless' Child Wins Court Ruling

March 11, 1993|THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BACKGROUND: Last March, an American missionary couple, Bill and Roberta Rees, filed suit in Tokyo asking the Japanese government to recognize the citizenship rights of their adoptive son, Andrew. (View, March 31, 1992)

Andrew was abandoned by his mother, who is believed to be Filipino, shortly after his birth. Japan's Justice Ministry has refused to recognize Andrew as Japanese and registered him as a stateless foreigner. The Philippine government also refused to give Andrew citizenship.

UPDATE: In a landmark decision, Tokyo District Court ruled last month that Andrew should be granted Japanese citizenship.

Presiding Judge Hideki Nakagome ruled that the 2-year-old boy believed to be half-Filipino is entitled to Japanese citizenship because neither of his parents can be identified.

Japan's Nationality Law says that a child born in Japan can be granted citizenship if both its mother and father are unknown.

The ruling is the first by a Japanese court giving Japanese citizenship to a stateless orphan. The government has two weeks to appeal.

"You are the winner, little boy," a smiling Roberta Rees said to Andrew after the decision. "This is the beginning of the opening of the door to other stateless children."

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