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We are to travel to Japan tomorrow with Finnair. However, today we noticed that the Japanese passport of one of our children (6 years old) expired a few months ago. The embassy is unable to issue an emergency passport for us. Our child however has a valid EU passport, which, under normal circumstances would be enough to enter Japan. Due to the recent corona restrictions, it is however only possible to enter Japan for Japanese citizens (with very few exceptions). Other than this, all we have is a copy of a recently issued Japanese Kosekitohon.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Will the airline let us board the flight? If yes, when we arrive in Japan, is there a risk that our daughter is denied entry?

Thank you for any tips or suggestions!

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    As far as I can tell from Timatic, the system used by airlines, children of Japanese citizens are allowed to enter but using an EU passport requires a visa timaticweb2.com/integration/… so the airline would deny boarding
    – Traveller
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 18:11
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    Deny entry in Japan? No, she is Japanese citizen (just with an expired passport). Maybe it will take much more time (to be sure she is Japanese). The first part of the question (could she allowed to fly?) Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 8:59

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Thanks a lot for the answers. In the end, it worked out for us.

The embassy could not issue a Travel Document for Return to Japan; they only issue them in case the passport has been lost or stolen, and a corresponding police report would be necessary. Instead all they could do was issue a new ordinary passport, which under emergency circumstances can be done in 24 hours. For this, one normally needs an original of a Koseki touhon, but a copy will suffice as long as one promises to bring the original version (exactly the same version that was copied) as soon as possible to the embassy.

This was not an option for us, so we contacted the 外国人在留総合インフォメーションセンター ( https://www.moj.go.jp/isa/consultation/center/index.html ).

They said that with an original of a Koseki touhon, it is possible to enter Japan even though the Japanese passport is expired. After contacting the KIX airport, we were told that someone already in Japan (a parent, etc) can bring the koseki touhon to us inside the airport before we go through immigration. This is how we solved it.

We were also advised to keep a copy of the koseki touhon with us when traveling, although we did not need to show this.

For the PCR test result, we were advised to put the expired Japanese passport number, and not the passport number of the valid EU passport.

Finnair never commented on the expired passport and simply checked us in. We also called them beforehand and were told that as long as the child has a valid travel document (the EU passport) and it is apparent that the child is a Japanese citizen, they will not deny boarding.

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    Thanks for reporting back. I'm surprised at Finnair's acceptance of the expired passport...but there you are. Sometimes things go better than expected. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 22:06
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Some countries allow entry for their citizens who possess expired passports. In those cases, the provision appears as a document exception in Timatic. The comment of Traveller suggests that this provision does not appear in Timatic's pages about entering Japan, and, therefore, is not part of Japanese immigration law.

Because the provision does not appear in Timatic, and there is no visa on the child's valid EU passport, Finnair will decline to assess the citizenship status of the child, and will refuse boarding.

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It seems that you cannot enter Japan as a Japanese citizen without a valid Japanese passport.

However, an embassy/consulate should be able to issue a Travel Document for Return to Japan (帰国のための渡航書). If you have a koseki touhon, which is enough to prove your child's Japanese citizenship, then the local consulate/embassy should be able to issue a travel document to your child. Just be careful that the Travel Document has a short period of validity so you're supposed to apply right before your departure (it will be issued on the same day). Also, not all countries recognize this document, so usually you must have a direct flight.

If one enters with a foreign passport, they will be treated as a short-term visitor (短期滞在者) at the border, and then they must go through the hassle of voiding their immigration status (在留資格) by proving their citizenship to the Ministry of Justice (since citizens cannot be given an immigration status). Currently this would not be possible since short-term visitors are not allowed into the country, and your child will likely not be boarded.

By law (Art. 61 of the Immigration Control and Refugees Act), Japanese citizens are allowed to enter if they could produce documents proving their citizenship in the case that they could not possess a valid passport. However, again, one would unlikely to be able to board if all they have is a koseki touhon and an expired passport.

Source: most Japanese consulates should have a page about this document. For example, the Consulate-General of Japan in New York, USA.

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