Foreign nationals who marry Japanese citizens do not need to live in Japan for the full five years normally required to obtain Japanese citizenship. The Minister of Justice has the discretion to grant Japanese citizen to a foreign national spouse of a Japanese citizen if he or she has lived in Japan for three years.
Deportation is used by the Japanese government as a last option for foreign nationals who refuse to obey the terms of their stay in Japan. A foreigner who stays past the authorized period of stay on his or her visa, who works in a field outside of the authorize visa activities, who is convicted of violating Japan’s anti-narcotics laws or convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to imprisonment without suspension of the sentence may be deported from Japan.
Deporting a foreign national back to their home country is an expensive process. Often, Japanese tax payers must pay for the detention of the foreign national, the hearings related to the immigration offense and the plane ticket back to the foreign national’s home country. To save this expense the Japanese government instituted the voluntary system of departure orders. These departure orders differ from normal deportation proceedings because the foreign national voluntarily leaves Japan at his or her own expense.
Choosing to leave Japan voluntarily during deportation proceedings can be very beneficial for the foreign national. Instead of being barred from reentering Japan for 5 years, the foreign national can return to Japan in only one year. While 1 year may seem like a long time, it is still greatly preferable to the alternative 5 year ban.