News | July 1, 2019

Marriage in Japan — Misconception and Actuality

By Ms. Kazumi Takahara, Japanese Legal Advisor

Servicemembers often come to Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Western Pacific seeking advice in getting married in Japan. They visit us either to seek information regarding the process or assistance in obtaining command approval. They often come misinformed. This article is intended to dispel the five most common misconceptions about getting married in Japan.

Misconception: A servicemember marrying a U.S. citizen must attend the marriage seminar.
Correct Information: While anyone getting married is encouraged to attend the seminar, COMNAVFORJAPANINST 1752.1T, commonly described as the “CNFJ marriage instruction,” does not require service‐ members marrying a U.S. citizen to attend the seminar or obtain command approval. This only applies to servicemembers marrying a foreign national.

Misconception: A servicemember’s foreign national fiancé needs to attend the marriage seminar.
Correct Information: While prospective spouses are encouraged to attend, the CNFJ marriage instruction does not require fiancés to attend the seminar. Only a servicemember marrying a foreign national is required to attend the seminar for command approval.

Misconception: Command approval is not required for marrying a foreign national in the U.S.
Correct Information: The CNFJ marriage instruction requires all servicemembers stationed in Japan to obtain command approval when marrying a Japanese national or resident, regardless of the location of the marriage, unless the fiancé is already a legal resident of the U.S. If a servicemember did not obtain the command approval, he or she may be required to obtain the approval after the fact to satisfy the requirements for command sponsorship of his or her spouse.

Misconception: A servicemember must follow the COMNAVMARIANA instruction when his or her Filipino fiancé is overstaying in Japan or is in Japan under a visitor visa.
Correct Information: The CNFJ marriage instruction applies to a marriage to a foreign national living in Japan regardless of the fiancé’s residency status in Japan. The COMNAVMARIANA instruction applies only to marriages being performed in their jurisdiction.

Misconception: The Ship’s legal office or legal officer can notarize an affidavit of competency to marry.
Correct Information: The CNFJ instruction directs servicemembers to the RLSO Legal Assistance Office to obtain an affidavit of competency to marry. Yokosuka City Hall only accepts affidavits notarized by the RLSO Legal Assistance Office when an applicant is U.S. military or civilian personnel. CNFJ is currently working to revise the marriage instruction. Please note that some of the above information will be outdated once the new instruction is issued.

Command representatives who have additional questions about the marriage instruction are encouraged to contact their SJA or RLSO Command Services Department. Service members who need assistance should be referred to the RLSO Legal Assistance Office.
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