A Taiwanese woman and her British husband registered their marriage on Friday in Abiko City in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture only to discover that her nationality was listed as “China” on the marriage certificate, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker said yesterday.
The woman from Pingtung County, surnamed Lee (李), said by telephone that she had objected to the designation of her nationality as Chinese and was told by Japanese authorities that the name was prescribed in its rules and regulations.
Lee said she had submitted her marriage registration in Japan because her husband worked there, but now she worried that Taiwanese authorities would not recognize her marriage certificate.
“The documents I presented for marriage registration in Japan were my household registration transcript and affidavit to single status. Both were authenticated by Taiwanese authorities,” Lee said. “However, the marriage certificate that I got in return states China as my nationality.”
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang--liang (蔡煌瑯) said the government should be held responsible for such cases, adding that the so-called “diplomatic truce” with Beijing that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had initiated after he took office in May 2008 had “failed to defend the nation’s sovereignty” and led to an international misconception that Taiwan belongs to China.
“When the DPP was in power, Taiwan was not denigrated by Japan; its household authority clearly distinguished Taiwan from China,” Tsai said. “Under Ma’s ‘diplomatic truce’ policy, even Japan, which has been friendly to Taiwan, now lists Taiwan as a province of China.”
An anonymous official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Association of East Asian Relations said that Japan would introduce a new foreign residency permit scheme in July next year in which it would list “Taiwanese” as the nationality of Taiwanese living in Japan.
The new scheme was based on Japan’s immigration law, which was amended by the House of Representatives in June 2009. Under the existing visa system, Taiwanese are classified under “China” for their nationality, the official said.
“Foreign residency permits will become the first type of official document issued by Japan in which Taiwanese will be classified under Taiwan for their nationality. However, this will not apply to -documents like marriage certificates or others,” the official said.
The official said Lee’s case was not an isolated incident, as classifying Taiwanese as coming from “China” or “China [Taiwan]” for their nationality was a practice long adopted by Japan.
The revelation comes after reports over the weekend confirmed that Croatia and Slovenia placed Taiwan under “People’s Republic of China” and “China” in their visa-exemption regime for Taiwanese.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER