More than 100 petitions for stateless status of second-generation Filipino-Japanese were filed before the Philippine government on Friday, a move aimed to boost their citizenship claims in Japanese courts.
Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai Rengokai (Philippine federation of Japanese descendants) President Ines Yamanouchi Mallari said 103 such petitions were lodged by second-generation Filipino-Japanese "nikkei-jin" before the Justice Department.
"There are about 1,100 of them still living and unrecognized by the Philippine and Japanese governments," she told Kyodo News on the sidelines of a general meeting of the nonprofit organization that has been helping second-generation Filipino-Japanese acquire Japanese citizenship.
State Counsel Melvin Suarez of the Justice Department's Refugees and Stateless Persons Protection Unit said there are six cases already in which the government has recognized the statelessness of such individuals.
An allied organization, the Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center, has been working toward the same goal.
"We asked our members to file petitions for statelessness...with the end view of applying for 'shuseki,' the confirmation of Japanese citizenship in a Japanese court," Hiroyuki Kawaii, chairman of its Japan chapter said through an English translator during the same meeting.
Kawaii urged Philippine officials to help them in their cause through the inclusion of a formal narrative in their rulings that would explicitly indicate the Japanese ancestry of individuals given stateless status.
"We consider them...a strong evidence in support of our petitions (for Japanese citizenship), which we will be filing with the Japanese family courts," he said.
Mallari said her organization has recorded around 3,800 "nikkei-jin" in the Philippines born here during the 1940s, mostly at the tail-end of the Japanese occupation during World War II.
"Most of them are in their eighties or nineties already," Mallari told Kyodo News, highlighting the need for the speedy resolution of their cases in the Philippines, as well as in Japan.