Do you need to pass a Japanese language test to naturalize as a Japanese citizen?

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One of the requirements that foreign nationals must meet before being allowed to naturalize as a Japanese citizen is that the foreign national have a very basic level of Japanese language ability.  The way the foreign national can prove that he or she meets this requirement is by taking a simple Japanese language test as part of the naturalization process.

The goal of the Japanese language test is simply to ensure that the foreign national can live in Japan without too much difficulty so it tests a relatively low level of Japanese.  Basically, the foreign national should be able to speak, understand, read and write Japanese at the level of a 7 or 8 year old elementary school student.  This will include being able to read and write all of the hiragana and katakana characters, as well as some simple kanji.

Understanding and being able to communicate in Japanese also greatly eases the naturalization application process.  As the naturalization application must be filled out in Japanese, having a basic grasp of the language is a big help.  Additionally, applicants are expected to hand-write a personal statement in Japanese as part of their application, although some exceptions to this rule do apply.  Finally, being able to smoothly communicate with the immigration officer in charge of the naturalization process may improve the foreign national’s chances of acquiring Japanese citizenship.

If you have any questions about becoming a Japanese citizen, please contact our office for a legal consultation.