During the press conference, Renho clarified that in 1985, when she was 17 years old, reforms to Japan’s citizenship laws meant that she acquired Japanese citizenship. At the time she believed that her father had completed the paperwork that permanently renounced her Taiwanese citizenship, yet a subsequent investigation of her citizenship found that this was not the case and that she was still registered as a citizen in Taiwan. When news of this state of affairs was raised by the media in 2016, Renho herself made enquiries to Taiwanese officials and discovered the truth of her situation. In September last year Renho made a public announcement confirming that she had renounced her Taiwanese citizenship, although she did not reveal the documentation confirming this at the time, citing privacy reasons.
However, the question of Renho’s citizenship was taken up by elements of the media in Japan and the issue continued to hound her during public appearances when it was brought up in the lead-up to the Tokyo metropolitan election. The insinuation that Renho had somehow sought to disguise her dual citizenship, that she was in some way a “security risk” and that as long as she did not publicly reveal the documentation proving she was no longer a Taiwanese citizen that she could not be trusted may have contributed to the Democratic Party’s poor showing in the election. The questions of “loyalty” and the future of the Democratic Party thus came to a head on Tuesday during Renho’s press conference, where her Koseki (family register) record proving her sole Japanese citizenship was revealed for all to see.
During the press conference, Renho stated that it would be the last time that she would be revealing such information in public. The fact that she felt compelled to go public with such proof was in part a response to questions over her position as Democratic Party leader, and to silence intra-party and right-wing criticism of her for not taking such a step earlier. Before the press conference, citizen rights and minority representatives tried to convince Renho to avoid making such a gesture, fearing that it would set a bad precedent for members of other social groups who have experienced discrimination in the past based on their personal information (particularly those belonging to the burakumin class). Yet as long as the issue continued to be raised it would negatively impact upon Renho’s ability to lead her own party and challenge the otherwise dominant position of the LDP in national politics.