Monday, December 31, 2007

LDP lawmakers oppose voting right for foreigners

This article is old, yet shows you the thinking of many
in the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan. Perhaps long-term
foreign residents in Japan should be allowed to vote?
What about those born in Japan but having Chinese or
Korean nationality, shouldn`t they be allowed to vote?
What do you think?

Japan Policy & Politics, May 21, 2001

TOKYO, May 15 Kyodo


Members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) failed Tuesday to reach a compromise on a pending bill to grant permanent foreign residents in Japan the right to vote in local elections, party members said.

They said the LDP members failed to reach agreement because many lawmakers expressed opposition.

About 15 lawmakers aired their opinions at a meeting of the LDP's Research Commission on the Election System, held at the party's headquarters in Tokyo. Some spoke strongly against the measure, saying giving non-Japanese residents the right to vote would infringe on Japan's national sovereignty.

Another opinion to surface during the meeting was that non-Japanese residents should acquire Japanese citizenship if they wanted to vote, and that the Diet should move to relax the conditions for obtaining Japanese citizenship to promote this course.

Only a handful of lawmakers supported the bill, advocating a full discussion be held on the issue. They said permanent residents should be given the right to vote in local elections in the communities where they were born and raised, but stopped short of supporting granting them voting rights in national elections.

The LDP leadership had hoped to nurture a consensus on members' opinions as soon as possible because the New Komeito party -- one of the LDP's two coalition allies and a major sponsor of the bill -- is hoping the Diet will vote on the matter before the end of the current 150-day ordinary session in late June.

The LDP leadership was seeking a compromise by which the Diet would vote on the bill in the current session, with party lawmakers given a free vote.

However, that idea was rejected by some LDP members at the meeting who said a free vote would cause an unseemly spectacle by openly splitting the party during the Diet session.

Former Construction Minister Masaaki Nakayama who chaired the meeting, told reporters after the meeting that he will convey the results of the debate to the LDP's allies -- the New Komeito and the New Conservative Party (NCP). He said another meeting will be held soon to try and find a workable compromise.

Meanwhile, the LDP has approved a bill to scrap the current screening process used in granting Japanese citizenship to permanent residents and instead accept applications via the justice minister.

The ruling coalition parties will jointly submit the bill to the current Diet session.

The amendment will simplify the complicated application process for obtaining citizenship for permanent residents hailing from former Japanese colonies on the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan as well as their descendants.

Some LDP members are calling for the bill to be presented as an alternative to the New Komeito's proposals to give permanent residents the right to vote in local election. The New Komeito, however, insists its bill should be considered separately.

There are 630,000 permanent foreign residents in Japan, most of them Koreans born in Japan.

Two separate but almost identical bills to grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local assembly, mayoral and gubernatorial elections were proposed to a previous parliamentary session last July, one by the New Komeito and the NCP, the other by the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

The Diet did not vote on the bills in the previous session, carrying over them to the current session.

The South Korean government and the pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan are both strong backers of the legislation.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Kyodo News International, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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