Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka could be forced to surrender US citizenship

 

Naomi Osaka may be forced to choose between Japanese and American citizenship (Getty)
Naomi Osaka may be forced to choose between Japanese and American citizenship (Getty)

Reigning US Open and Australian Open Champion Naomi Osaka could face a huge decision about her future.

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Japanese Law may require her to choose between representing Japan or the United States.

The 21-year-old, who pulled off a shock victory over Serena Williams in the final at Flushing Meadows last August, became the first Japanese player to win a tennis Grand Slam.

Osaka, born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, has lived in the United States since since the age of three and has citizenship in both countries.

However, under Japan’s Nationality Act, dual citizens are required to declare for one nationality before the age of 22, meaning the current world number one must make a decision before her birthday on October 16 this year.

Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese Grand Slam winner after beating Serena Williams in the final of the 2018 US Open (Getty)
Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese Grand Slam winner after beating Serena Williams in the final of the 2018 US Open (Getty)

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When pressed on the issue at last year’s China Open, Osaka appeared to make her position clear

“I don’t really understand why people keep asking me this,” she said following a straight sets win over American Danielle Collins. “I’m pretty sure it’s obvious. I’m playing for Japan. Not to be disrespectful or anything, but I don’t really get where the conclusion that it’s a hard choice for me or anything comes from.” 

Despite residing in the States, the tennis star’s parents decided from a young age that their children would represent Japan, partly due to a lack of any attention from the United States Tennis Association.

Osaka was born in Japan but lives in the United States (Getty)
Osaka was born in Japan but lives in the United States (Getty)

With Osaka perhaps not willing to surrender her US citizenship so readily, the complicated nature of the law may actually allow her to keep both.

While the Japanese government openly opposes dual nationality, the law itself is rarely enforced with the Japan Times last year reporting of no instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked.

However, given her high profile status, Osaka may well fall foul of the law if the Japanese government want to continue to present it as credible legislation.

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