Photo/IllutrationHitoshi Nogawa, a Japanese-born citizen living in Switzerland, speaks at a news conference March 12 on the lawsuit he and seven others filed. (Ryota Goto)

Eight Japanese living in Europe who acquired or are trying to acquire foreign citizenship filed a lawsuit in Tokyo demanding the right to dual citizenship on grounds the Nationality Law that forces people to pick just one is unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs are seeking a legal ruling that they can retain their Japanese citizenship. Six of them are now citizens of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and the other two are in the process of trying to acquire Swiss or French citizenship.

The suit, filed March 9 at the Tokyo District Court, is also seeking a combined 3 million yen ($28,130) in damages from the state.

The group contends that the right to retain Japanese nationality is guaranteed under the Constitution.

Plaintiff Hitoshi Nogawa, who is 74 and resides in Switzerland, said nationality is an integral part of his identity.

“I had to choose Swiss citizenship (over Japanese nationality) due to my work, but I have strong attachment to Japan where I was born and grew up,” he told a news conference in Tokyo on March 12.

Teruo Naka, one of the lawyers for the group, called the Nationality Law “flawed.”

“There are many Japanese who lose opportunities to work outside Japan or suffer inconvenience abroad due to the provision on the loss of Japanese nationality,” he said.

The Constitution guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness and freedom of all. However, Paragraph 2 of Article 22 of the Constitution states: "Freedom of all persons to move to a foreign country and to divest themselves of their nationality shall be inviolate."

The Nationality Law stipulates that if “a Japanese citizen acquires the nationality of a foreign country at his/her choice, he/she loses Japanese nationality.”

Under Japanese law, individuals with dual or multiple citizenship, such as children born to Japanese and foreign nationals, are required to select their nationality by the age of 22.