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Foreigners Shouldn't vote in Japan.

The debate about opening the polls to long time residents of Japan, who are not citizens has been raging in Japan for months now. The current discussion is focused on whether Japan should adopt legislation to extend voting rights to Permanent Residents, who are not Japanese Citizens.

The proposed Foreigner's Suffrage bill has divided the government. The call for voting rights for long-time residents of Japan is in large part being pushed by the South Korean government. There are an estimated 400,000 Korean citizens currently holding Permanent Residency in Japan. Under current voting laws they are not allowed to cast ballots in elections. These Korean citizens are in large part fully integrated into Japanese society, speaking fluent Japanese, owning businesses and property. Many of them are third and fourth generation residents. Japanese Citizenship is based on lineage and these Koreans are kept in a pseudo-citizen category. Some of the Koreans who were Permanent Residents, have married Japanese spouses and have become naturalized citizens. Many of them are not currently Japanese Citizens.

It is my contention that in order to vote in any country, you should follow the legal avenues to become a citizen of such a country and not be voting from the outside in. Although these Korean citizens and a great deal of other nationalities currently reside in Japan on a full time, permanent basis they should not be voting in Japanese elections, be they local or national.

“The government should not be hasty in submitting a bill to the ordinary Diet session to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents in Japan, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi said Saturday.” (1)

Haraguchi came out in support of the legislation back in the fall of 2009 and has since became a little more moderate on his stance as the above quote demonstrates. The Democrats have been attempting to open a more positive dialogue with Seoul on a variety of issues. The main focus of the DPJ has been to increase positive relations with the Asian community, and granting voting rights to non Japanese citizens seems to be another ploy to this end.
Prime Minister Hatoyama and Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa have been supporting the foreigner's suffrage bill and pushing for the proposed bill to make its way quickly through the necessary Diet sessions, so that it can be passed into law. The Democratic Party of Japan has been working towards Permanent Resident legislation since 1998, but due to staunch opposition from the Liberal Democrats they could not get the previous 12 bills through the house. (2)

Japan is often criticized by foreign residents as being slightly racist. Japanese citizens periodically look down on Korean Permanent Residents in Japan. Although granting voting rights to long time residents could alleviate some of these tensions, the vote specifically should only be granted to full fledged citizens of Japan.

(1) http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T100130005317.htm
(2) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20091009a1.html

Comments

It'd be silly to let foreigners in Japan the rights to vote.
Such rights need to be limited to Japanese citizens.
In Canada, a voter needs to prove they are a citizen of Canada.
Why should a visitor be permitted to vote? They may not know the relevent politics. Or they may be aware of the politics, but only on a scholastic level, not feeling the every-day impact of political choices.
I'm not Japanese. I'm not a citizen of Japan. I visited Japan twice many years ago.
And I think Japan should exclude residents who are not citizens.

Have to agree with the Japanese on this one. How many nations allow foreigners to vote? If these Koreans want to vote in Japan, they have the right to take Japanese citizenship. The fact that they do not shows they do not want to be full Japanese. It is utterly ridiculous to give those who do not want to be Japanese the same rights of citizenship as Japanese.

Human rights and citizen rights are different issues.

>>It'd be silly to let foreigners in Japan the rights to vote.
>>Such rights need to be limited to Japanese citizens.
Why? There are plenty of countries where the franchise is not limited to citizens.

>>Why should a visitor be permitted to vote?
It's not about visitors, it is about long term residents. Arguably they should be allowed to vote for reasons of democracy and accountability for taxation.

>>They may not know the relevent politics. Or they may be aware of the politics, but only on a scholastic level, not feeling the every-day impact of political choices.
Or they may be fully aware of the politics and everyday impacts, since they live there as permanent residents.

I personally do not have a settled opinion on the matter, however the arguments against are not convincing, in my view.

I agree in principle that the right to vote should be reserved only for citizens. But unlike most countries Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship. Perhaps addressing this concern might be more reasonable?

In any case, I live here, pay taxes here, have children here. If I am denied dual citizenship and must renounce my own country to be a citizen here, why should I not be allowed the right to vote in local elections? Elections that have a direct bearing on my children and community?

This is a global world. Regardless of my feelings on citizenship, I will take any opportunity I am given to empower the working class and strive towards a free society for all, regardless of borders. I think this is a positive step for Japan. What remains to be seen though is whether the government truly has the interests of its zainichi Koreans and foreign residents at its heart or is only manipulating demographics to expand its voter pool.

Makes sense to me. But, when it really comes down to it, we're just arguing semantics. Just come up with some official sounding name for person with all the basic rights of a citizen but technically not a citizen. I like SUPER PERMANENT RESIDENT!

I personally know of one doctor in Japan that is a third generation Korean. His wife is Japanese and so is his child. He's around 50 years old and has tried to become a Japanese citizen numerous times over the years. Every time his has been refused. He doesn't speak or read Korean and he's never ever even been to Korea. He is a graduate of Gifu medical university and he has never done anything illegal or controversial in his entire life. This continuing argument that if you don't like not being able to vote in Japan then just become a citizen sounds great. But the reality is that it is extremely difficult to become a citizen in Japan. Long time permanent and generational residents should be allowed to vote. Then we can vote for politicians that will make it a little less difficult for permanent long term residents to become citizens.

I have never seen a good reason for not extending voting rights to foreign residents of Japan who pay Japanese taxes just the same as Japanese citizens. Ok, some permanent residents might not be fully versed in Japanese political issues, but neither are a lot of Japanese citizens and that doesn't disqualify them from voting. Furthermore, at the end of the day a passport is just a small booklet and citizenship is just a statistic. It's a hard fact that a substantial part of my income goes to pay for cretins who make stupid decisions that affect me, and I want the power to hold them to account when they waste MY money. Are there any Americans parroting this tedious line that only citizens should get to vote? Well, think on this phrase that lies at the cornerstone of your country's democracy: No taxation without representation.

If the Japanese authorities are not letting him become Japanese in this day and age, then they have a good reason: most likely a criminal record (even a minor misdemeanor) in Japan or overseas (many countries, by the way, do not allow you to vote even if you are a citizen if you have a criminal record).

The reality is that it's not difficult to be a citizen of Japan. It's guaranteed by the supreme law of the land (article 10 of the Japanese constitution). And hundreds of people do it every year. The rules are:

  1. don't be a minor in Japan or your home country (rule exempted if married to a Japanese)
  2. live in Japan for five years continuously (less if married to a Japanese)
  3. show that you won't be destitute (don't be poor and speak enough Japanese to hold a job)
  4. don't be a member of a crime / terrorist / anti-Japanese organization or have a criminal record
  5. be willing to give up your other citizenships.

That's it. Unlike the U.S., being a permanent resident isn't even a prerequisite.

30 or 40 years ago, yes, perhaps becoming Japanese was hard (I don't know. Wasn't there. Didn't do it back then). But not in the 21st century.

Source: I am a naturalized Japanese and have been through the process. While I was not originally Korean, almost (99%) all of the naturalized Japanese I know are Korean or Chinese. As an former American, I'm an extreme minority amongst naturalized Japanese.

1) Conflict of Interest and 2) lack of commitment to Japan

1) Regarding conflict of interest, a dual national might be tempted to vote in a way that benefits their first country more than the country of Japan (for example, the U.S. military base issue or international trade issues). Even allowing foreigners to participate in local elections exposes them to the conflict of interest issue.

2) a foreigner would be tempted to vote for things that benefit them short term regardless of long term consequences, as it's much easier for a foreigner to leave Japan and go back to their home country than it is for a Japanese to leave Japan should things go bad. Some examples (by no means exhaustive): A foreigner would vote for short term tax breaks or opting out of national health insurance that benefit them, for example, not worried about the long term consequences of the fiscal policy (ballooning deficit, collapse of social systems due to non-participation).

Perhaps allowing permanent residents to vote for issues that have no long term or international consequences might be possible, but as a general rule, I think you need to indicate you have until-death-do-us-part commitment to Japan before you are allowed to vote for things that affect the future of Japan.

tokubetsu eijuuken (special permanent residents; basically Koreans/Chinese whose ancestors have complicated connections to Japan that date back to before/during The War) get special tax breaks and/or other benefits that neither citizens nor regular permanent residents get in some prefectures.

Not saying its their only motivation (pride is probably another big factor), but the Special Permanent Residents have a financial motive to want to vote without naturalizing.

Some foreign residents might indeed want to vote for the wrong sorts of reasons, but considering that they consistently returned the same corrupt and incompetent party to power for more than half a century, I'm not sure that the judgment of naturalized Japanese voters is much better.

It sounds like you're saying that the people of Japan are stupid, and if only non-Japanese were allowed to vote they could show them how to properly run their country.

Not sure why you felt it was necessary to take a dig at naturalized Japanese, unless that was a personal attack on me. Especially since if you knew a little more about Japanese politics, you'd know that an (estimated) overwhelming 83% of naturalized Japanese did not vote for the LDP in the last election.

Sorry, "naturalized" was probably the wrong word - "native" Japanese voters might be closer to what I meant to say. Anyway, if anyone's going to accuse some PRs of wanting to vote for the wrong reasons, I think they should admit the possibility of Japanese people being capable of doing the same thing. In any case, I do not think there are any moral or practical grounds for any lawmakers to say, "We're excluding (XYZ group of people) from voting because they might make the wrong choice." People make the wrong choices all the time, no matter what country they come from.

Are there any really good reasons to not let PERMANENT RESIDENTS vote in LOCAL elections? Any legitimate concerns? I personally have only heard a bunch of "what if's", but nothing more compelling that an emotionally charged "reason".

As a foreign resident of Japan I pay taxes and I receive the benefits that the tax money provides. I am required to pay taxes by law, but the people spending my money are not accountable in any way to me. Give me a vote; or stop requiring me to pay taxes. If all laws treat me exactly the same as a citizen, then why isn't the government accountable to me just like it is to citizens. If we start asking these questions, we will find a reasonable solution.

I personally think that if dual citizenship was allowed this whole question would be moot. Of course then the discussion would begin to focus on how dual citizenship will destroy Japan.

Are there any really good reasons to not let PERMANENT RESIDENTS vote in LOCAL elections? Any legitimate concerns?
I take it you mean aside from Article 15 of Japan's Constitution, which expressly states that the right to elect and discharge public officials lies exclusively with the citizens of Japan.

As a foreign resident of Japan I pay taxes and I receive the benefits that the tax money provides. I am required to pay taxes by law, but the people spending my money are not accountable in any way to me. Give me a vote; or stop requiring me to pay taxes.

All countries I have ever heard of that have an income tax tax the income of those living within the borders of that country. Citizen or not. Most do not allow those foreign residents to vote. "Obligation to pay taxes" and "right to vote" are two very separate issues, at least as regards foreign residents.

If all laws treat me exactly the same as a citizen

They don't. Citizens have right, privileges and obligations foreigners do not. The laws do not treat you, or I, the same as citizens. Nor should they.

I don't see that the obligation to pay taxes as a resident of a country (as opposed to being a company or a short stay type which often involves a lower contribution) and the right to vote are necessarily separate issues.

You say that many countries do not allow residents to vote and this is true, but there are many that do: New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain are ones that I know of. Japanese residents in these countries enjoy and exercise the right to vote. You may believe that this is wrong headed on the part of these countries. Personally, I don't. Nor is there any significant public demur on this topic, except amongst those of more extreme right wing persuasion.

There is a benefit to Japanese citizens living abroad, if the governement will behave reciprocally towards nations that treat those that treat ex patriot Japanese well. It provides them with leverage to persuade other countries to do likewise.

You say that many countries do not allow residents to vote and this is true, but there are many that do: New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain are ones that I know of.
Great Britain allows Irish (Republic) citizens and Commonwealth citizens to vote for Parliament. EU citizens are able to vote in local elections. So basically, "If you recognize our Head of State as your Head of State (which means we used to own you), and are resident here, you can vote in any election. If you belong to the same supranational geopolitical body as we do, then you can vote in local elections here just as our citizens can vote in the local elections in your home country." There are some pretty unique historical and political circumstances at play in the UK and Europe, which (aside from the Empire thing, but that ended badly here in Japan) have no parallel here in Japan. Note that non-EU and non-Commonwealth citizens cannot vote in the UK.

As for Australia, I just checked several Australian government websites about voting, and all say that the only non-Australian citizens who can vote are British citizens who were on a Commonwealth electoral roll prior to January, 1984. Granted, I didn't check every State, only a couple where I could find the info plus the national info, so perhaps one or more of the States has a local law allowing it, but it doesn't look like we can say "Australia allows foreigners to vote".

You are correct about New Zealand, I will grant you that. I don't agree that they've done the "right thing", though. Still, that is their decision - Japanese consistently poll as being against the idea, and considering who the largest groups of PRs are here I appreciate their reservations.

OK. I was wrong about some points, and should have checked things I believed out to see how true they were. I apologise for my laziness.

However, I think it is a problem that in many countries people with immigrant/resident populations that they have either no representation or insufficient representation. This actually impacts on the local population as well. Firstly, because when such representation is either low or non existant, it increases the level of illegal behaviour on the part of that population. Secondly, there are problems with company behaviour, which can also affect the public. In the case of Japan, you have a lot of half-baked scam artists running their eikaiwa companies badly and causing consumers to lose money. If there were more representation of the interests of foriegners living in countries other than their own, then this kind of thing could be ammeliorated to some extent.

Public opinion on the likely effects of the right of foriegners to vote is largely based on the level of information on the likely effects. Polls will reflect that.

Are there any really good reasons to not let PERMANENT RESIDENTS vote in LOCAL elections? Any legitimate concerns?
I take it you mean aside from Article 15 of Japan's Constitution, which expressly states that the right to elect and discharge public officials lies exclusively with the citizens of Japan.

Disenfranchising foreigners isn't necessarily right just because the Constitution says so. Constitutions frequently say things that people don't like, and it's not unknown for them to get amended or scrapped altogether. But seeing as you consider Article 15 of the Constitution to be a good reason for limiting the franchise to Japanese citizens, would you be in favour of PRs voting if the Constitution got changed to allow it?

Secondly, there are problems with company behaviour, which can also affect the public. In the case of Japan, you have a lot of half-baked scam artists running their eikaiwa companies badly and causing consumers to lose money. If there were more representation of the interests of foriegners living in countries other than their own, then this kind of thing could be ammeliorated to some extent.
Somehow I don't think when Japanese are asked "Should permanent-resident foreigners get the right to vote?" the equation "foreigner = Dave sensei" is the first thought they have. When most Japanese think about "letting permanent residents vote" they are thinking of 1. Koreans 2. Chinese, the fastest-growing and largest single group of foreigners in Japan and 3. Brazilians. That is 70% of the foreign population right there - English teachers are a single-digit anomaly.

would you be in favour of PRs voting if the Constitution got changed to allow it?

Absolutely not, and I would sincerely hope Article 15 does not get changed. The Constitution could use some tweaks, but that is not one of them.

Talk to people who have worked in both Japan and Korea and know enough about the societies in both.
Koreans refuse to take Japanese citizenship because they want to have their sushi and eat it too. They want to proclaim how "Korea and unique" they are but still demand the rights of Japanese citizens without bothering to undergo the application process.

Japan colonised Korea for 40 years or so in the 2oth century yada yad yada. Koreans play upon this ad nauseum. If Japan is such a hateful country to live in for them, why don't they return to their 'superior' homeland? They don't want to because they've got it good in Japan. Non Korean gaijin would have more sympathy for Koreans living in Japan (of all generations) if they didn't keep pushing this contradictory stance of how they want everything to be equal for them but they don't want to apply for citizenship.

As for Koreans supposedly 'not allowed' to become Japanese citizens, mark my words they have links to pro North Korean groups. The fact that Japan allows these people to even be residents shows Japan to be lenient towards Koreans. In fact the murderous regime of Kim Jong Il and that of his thankfully now rotting father survived to a considerable extent because of money sent by pro regime Koreans of any generation living in Japan.

I am sure the supposedly innocent doctor has some dubious connections and actions on his record in Japan, almost certainly active support for this unspeakably evil regime in North Korea.

As someone who worked in both Japan and Korea I will finish by stating that Korea is by far the more xenophobic and racist country of the two. Koreans enjoy acting like victims but their own society in Korea is very good at stigmatising foreigner residents and making their lives difficult in numerous ways that the Japanese have yet to think of.

You hit the nail on the head. Koreans in Japan can easily get Japanese citizenship if they choose to.

Why in the world should Japan give voting rights to those who not only refuse to become citizens but want to be loyal to one of the most murderous regimes in the world?

I realize that is not all the Koreans in Japan, but there is a way for them to get the right to vote: BECOME CITIZENS! Unless they can prove that avenue is blocked, they should stop crying. They are the ones refusing to naturalize. They have a lot a nerve bitching about the consequences of their own actions.

To anyone arguing that nationals of certain countries should not be allowed to vote in any Japanese elections because they may not vote in Japan's best interests, please consider that while the law might be changed to allow them to vote but it will not be changed to determine who they are voting for. Japanese elected officials will and should continue to be Japanese citizens, and I am sure that candidates in elections will not seek to pander to the wishes of minority groups who are disloyal to Japan. If they do, then hopefully the majority of Japanese voters will vote for someone else. Case in point: it could be said that the Japan Communist Party and the defunct Japan Socialist Party are, or were, overly sympathetic to North Korea, but they still have or had representation in the Diet because Japanese citizens, not PRs, voted for them. Until nationals of North Korea, Iran or whatever other unwholesome state you might care to mention can actually stand in Japanese elections, the amount of damage that voters from those countries can do is limited.

Many countries allow dual citizenship, whereas Japan does not. If dual citizenship were permitted, I am sure that a high proportion of those who decline to take out Japanese citizenship would do so. There is nothing wrong that I can see in wanting to retain links to your roots, but at the same time to be a fully functioning member of the society in which you now live. Given the circumstances under which Koreans actually came to be living in Japan, a more tolerant attitude to the desire for dual nationality would be reasonable, I think. Also, I can't see that dual nationality actually does any great harm in those countries that allow it. Actually, it often brings benefits.

To anyone arguing that nationals of certain countries should not be allowed to vote in any Japanese elections because they may not vote in Japan's best interests

What I see is a bunch of people, including myself, arguing that foreign nationals should not be allowed to vote because they are not citizens. Who they may or may not vote for is largely irrelevant, and yes, there have been some flaming idiots like Doi Takako who were elected solely by Japanese - but if North Koreans had been able to vote they probably would have voted for her, and no sense giving stupid any more votes than it already gets anyway.

Given the circumstances under which Koreans actually came to be living in Japan

You mean like "immigrating to Japan of their own free will in search of a better life"? Those circumstances? I won't deny that Japan's annexation of the Korean peninsula was underhanded (then again, they could have become a Russian colony, those were pretty much the only choices on the table, and if the latter had happened guess when Korea would have become independent again?). Nor will I attempt to say that Japanese of the time were full of brotherly love for their fellow Asians - they most emphatically were not. However, I am tired of this old canard of how "the Koreans now in Japan were brought over forcibly". They were not. There was a large Korean population in Japan before the war, and even before the annexation. They owned shops, ran businesses, and after they became citizens following the annexation some even became elected officials within Japan. They built ties to their communities - why do you think they all didn't just run back to the peninsula in the autumn of 1945? Many of them had built a life here, some for a couple of generations already by that time.

Some Koreans were brought over as slave laborers - yes. All too many were, and all too many died under brutal circumstances in mines and factories or on Pacific islands where they were forced to build bases for the Army and Navy. Priority was given to repatriating those Koreans by the Japanese government and GHQ immediately after the war. Those Koreans and their families who had been in Japan prior to the end of the war were given a choice - some left, but many, many more chose to stay, and have chosen to stay ever since. Seoul is an hour to 90 minutes away by plane - the Koreans can go "home" at any time. So spare us the "under the circumstances of what happened 60 years ago" crap. They have made this their home, but refuse to become citizens all while demanding they be treated as citizens. They deserve no sympathy from any of us.

You misunderstood me or you're creating a strawman. I said no "conflict of interest" and "long term" commitments. When I said this I did not say that naturalized people or Japanese will always make the right choice or non-Japanese / dual nationals may make a "wrong choice." What I meant what these are the qualities that the Japanese people WANT in their voters.

Every country has rules for who can and who can't vote. Yes, there are a lot of losers and bone heads that vote for stupid people and stupid things even if they qualify to vote according to the rules. Doesn't matter. Likewise, there are probably people that could make intelligent votes even if they don't qualify according to the rules. Again, doesn't matter.

Example: U.S. doesn't allow people with criminal records vote, even if they are citizens. Does this mean that those with a criminal record, who have paid their debt to society, can't possibly vote in the best interests of the United States? No. Does it mean the U.S. fears that ex-convicts will vote members of organized crime into office? No. They make these rules because the citizens WANT a certain type of person to represent them in the vote.

To vote in Japan, Japan (as in the Japanese Constitution) wants you to WANT to be Japanese. For born-as-Japanese, granted, the bar for measuring whether you want to be Japanese is pretty low (basically, as long as you don't go overseas and renounce your Japanese citizenship). For non-Japanese? Yes, you too can vote. But you gotta want it. How bad? Naturalization bad. Got PR? Sorry, you don't want it bad enough. True, you earned your PR, and it was hard to get, and for your years invested in Japan, Japan has awarded you with PR, which allows you to do quite a lot: you could be jobless, single, and homeless, and still have the right to live in Japan and use its social services, etc.

But vote? That's different. PR is earned, but naturalization is both earned AND a serious lifetime commitment (more of a legal commitment than anything else you'll do in life, be it a house/business loan or even marriage in most countries), where you promise to be Japanese and only Japanese.

And that's the type of person that Japan wants voting. It's not like Japan isn't allowing you to vote ever. You could (by naturalizing); I'm guessing that since you qualified for PR (which is hard to get) you would easily qualify for naturalization.

But you're unwilling to pay the price (naturalization). So you don't want it to vote that badly and your commitment to Japan is not that strong. So you're not the type of person, according to the Constitution, that Japan wants voting in Japanese elections. Even if you are smart, live in Japan, are a good person, or may vote the "right" way (whatever that means).

Agree with the idea of only allowing citizens the right to vote in any country; completely disagree with Japan's current stance on both dual citizenship and even the ease to which one can become a citizen in the country - see Korean doctor that doesnt read/speak korean example above as a perfect example of the, in my mind, xenophobic mindset that still exists in japan

People who were born in Japan didn't choose to be here. Maybe their parents did, or maybe some of them didn't. Many of those born here do, of course, choose to retain their Korean citizenship. Personally, I don't see why they shouldn't be allowed dual citizenship in the circumstances. What's the problem with that?

You misunderstood me or you're creating a strawman.

Actually, judging by the general content of your comments I don't think I was addressing anything you'd said at all, unless you were one of the people in favour of North Koreans remaining disenfranchised because they support an evil and murderous regime, but I got the impression they were different Anonymouses. I'd seen the same kind of comments appearing in Yomiuri editorials, e.g. giving the vote to foreign nationals to countries hostile to Japan could create security problems, and I simply wanted to point out that I didn't think this would be such a big problem as election candidates would have a different agenda.

As for how Japan decides who it wants to vote, it seems to me that the argument runs a bit like this:

It is right that only Japanese citizens are eligible to vote. Why? Because it says so in the Constitution. Why is it in the Constitution? Because it's right.

I'd also like to add that given that the present Constitution was largely drafted by the US occupation authorities in 1947 and that the DPJ won the August 2009 election on a policy platform that included suffrage for PRs in local elections (it probably wasn't the most important issue for a lot of people but it didn't seem to hurt the Democrats too much), are you really so sure that it is the best way to measure what Japan now wants its voters to be like? As I said, if the Constitution gets amended to allow PRs to vote in local elections that will presumably reflect more accurately what Japan expects of its voters, so what then would your objection be? That PRs who settle here, have homes and families here and stay most of their lives here still aren't committed enough?

For the record though, I don't think you have much to be worried about - I seriously doubt this change will ever happen.

Somehow I don't think when Japanese are asked "Should permanent-resident foreigners get the right to vote?" the equation "foreigner = Dave sensei" is the first thought they have.

That was an example only. Company mistreatment of Korean and Chinese foriegn workers is often worse, I would expect. You ignored my main arguments.

Talk to people who have worked in both Japan and Korea and know enough about the societies in both.

Your argument against voting rights appears to be largely based in your views about the deficits of Japan's neighbours.

What the constitution actually says is that only Japanese citizens have the right to vote.

Clearly, extending a limited franchise to certain classes of foreigners would not be a right for them but a privilege granted by law, and revocable. So that disposes of that objection.

The other objections boil down to "They are not trustworthy because they are not Japanese."

Shizuka Kamei, the PNP leader who seems to think he's running the government himself, recently commented on why he's against suffrage for PRs in local elections:

‘‘Elections could heat up,’’ Kamei told a plenary session of the House of Councillors. ‘‘Granting the right to vote would run the risk of creating antagonism because it could spur nationalist sentiments."

I honestly don't know what that means but it sounds like little more than xenophobic scaremongering. If I were against PRs voting in local elections because I believed it had some kind of detrimental effect on Japanese democracy, I'd want to disassociate myself from comments like this.

What the constitution actually says is that only Japanese citizens have the right to vote.

Clearly, extending a limited franchise to certain classes of foreigners would not be a right for them but a privilege granted by law, and revocable. So that disposes of that objection.

*blink*

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

Lemme see if I got this right - the supreme law of the land says "electing and dismissing public officials (in other words, voting in elections) is the exclusive right of citizens". But you think if we make another law which says "but foreigners can vote in local elections" then that is "bestowing a privilege" not "granting a right", and therefore in no way runs afoul of Constitutional law, which is the gold standard all other laws in the country must be, and are, judged against.

Wow. That is either dazzlingly brilliant or incredibly stupid, and I don't think it is the former.

That doesn't strike me as being any more convoluted an interpretation of constitutional wording than that which allows the current role of the SDF in the military sphere

Look, does it really matter?
Politics is japan is screwed up anyway. In the elections last year, Policy hardly mattered. It was all down to personalities, and giving the LDP a black eye.
Elections in Japan are popularity contest, even more so than other countries. Hence is why reprehensible individuals like Ishihara Shintaro (Tokyo mayor), who is one of the worst racists in politics, or Hiranuma Takeo who is a close second make outrageous statements about foriegners, and still wind-up getting re-elected. Not because people like their policies (at least I hope not) but because the like their style. Christ, ex-pm Fukuda once tried to place blame on rape victims. And he wad PM 3 years later!
Sufferage for permanent residents is neither here nor there and would be more symbolic of changing Japan than having any real effect on anything. I think that's why it's important to a lot of people. It's also highlighting the racist and backward attitudes of any number of people here. That's what needs to change first, not sufferage laws.

The media continue to cover the topic of suffrage for PRs in local elections and I read today:

The issue of local suffrage for permanent foreign residents in Japan came under the spotlight in 1995 after the Supreme Court said the Constitution does not ban giving the right to vote to foreign nationals with permanent resident status in local elections.

On the other side of the argument, LDP prefectural assembly members are admitting that they only supported foreign suffrage before because they never really thought it would happen:

‘‘The political situation has changed and we now have a sense of danger for the Hatoyama administration,’’ he said. The Chiba assembly adopted a supporting statement in 1999 when the coalition government between the LDP and the New Komeito party was launched.

An LDP member of the Ishikawa prefectural assembly expressed a similar view, saying the assembly had been supportive because giving permanent residents the right to vote was not ‘‘realistic’’ before.

(Kyodo News)

It seems to me that every time a Japanese politician opens his mouth to oppose foreign suffrage he gives people one less reason to be on his side.

I realize that Japan is not the U.S. and also that the U.S. is not the best in the world. However despite that, I believe the U.S. has the right idea on not being taxed without representation. I feel like Japan needs to choose; they can either not let us vote and quit taking a good chunk of our paychecks to waste on more useless road construction, salaries of xenophobic dinosaur politicians, thousands of meetings where nothing is every decided, etc., or they can take our money and give us the power to vote on how our money is used and make sure our voice, no matter how small, has a platform to be heard. To me it seems like the Japanese government is the real party wanting to have its cake and eat it, too.

When I read about the fact that the South Korean government is pushing this case, it makes me even more skeptical. The Korean govt and Koreans suffer from a lack of rational thought and analysis in just about every aspect of their society. To be far, rational thinking about issues isn't great in Japan either. It's generally a weakness in East Asian societies because of the lack of influence of the great philosophical/political movements that opened the way to the protection of free thought, free speech, civil societies, and scientific progress in the west.

Nevertheless, Korea's double standards can't go unchallenged. Korea's version of history is definitely worse than the whitening of Japan's grim war record because the false history Korea creates as propaganda and pushes as truth covers just about every phase of its unremarkable, uncreative, underachieving non history until the last two decades of the 20th century society. The Koreans given the chance to migrate to Japan under colonialism have now become 'slave labourers' even though that was a certain percentage later and certainly not most of the forbears of the Korean Japanese now in Japan.

Anybody who has lived in Korea knows that the majority of Koreans as demonstrated by their government, media, education and citizens, have little problem with demanding standards from the rest of the world (especially Japan) that they themselves feel exempt from. It's an inferiority complex, deeply held , that manifests itself in an over compensating sense that Koreans are 'superior', they 'invented' key inventions that their deeply divisive feudal society had nothing to do with, and they are the 'victims' of Japan and the world. You can not reason with such an overwhelmingly misguided population.

The same constant refusal to face history as it happened in Korea also extends to the obsession with 'Korean sex slaves' of the Japanese, even though Korea has a nasty history of slavery of its own including sexual slavery of women from 'inferior' classes. While Japanese families were studying in the west, Korean elites walled themselves in their version of palaces populated by eunuchs who more or less were slaves, women sex slaves and other slaves. Prostitution is a fact of life wherever military are and not all Korean women were 'enslaved' by the Japanese. The Korean elites were also keen to collaborate with the Japanese and the Korean history of sexual slavery certainly made it easier for the Japanese colonisers to institute their version.

Japan does not have to compensate Korea for anything. Financial reparations were made in the treaties following the end of WW2, most Koreans were allowed to go unpunished for their active roles in war crimes committed against non Japanese and non Koreans (read western pows' accounts of how brutal many Korean military and guards were during the war), and Koreans were allowed to stay on in Japan. This becomes more magnanimous when we know how much money Koreans gave to prop up the dictators in North Korea. Some Koreans behaving very much like a 5th column in Japan for North Korea doesn't really encourage any belief they should be allowed to vote.

Korea's delusions about itself and its constant attempts to slander Japan and the Japanese as well as distort the truth about Korean Japanese are good arguments against giving Koreans the special treatment their insecurities make them demand. As for the South Korean govt getting in on the act - the xenophobia and bigotry of this govt is well known among any foreigners who live in South Korea. Racism in Japan doesn't quite seem that way when you are used to the South Korean variety which is far more irrational and virulent.

I can't see what your generalised remarks on Koreans as a group have to do with the question of voting rights. Unless, of course, you mean that Koreans as a race are incapable of the level of rational judgement necessary to vote and therefore should not be allowed to do so.

IKnowKorea is probably referring to this :

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and his South Korean counterpart, Yu Myung Hwan, agreed Thursday to enhance cooperation between the two countries in a historically sensitive year that marks a century since Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

"The people of South Korea were deprived of their country and their ethnic pride was deeply hurt. We must never forget the feelings of the victims," Okada told a joint press conference with Yu after their talks, during which they also agreed to closely cooperate in dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat.

On the issue of granting local-level suffrage to permanent foreign residents in Japan, many of whom are of Korean descent, Yu, South Korea's foreign affairs and trade minister, reiterated his hope that Japan would move toward that end, while Okada said the government is currently "considering" the matter.

Shawn
Let's Japan.org::Blog

Yeah, I knew that he was referring to that. It's an interesting play on the part of the new government. Perhaps they think that buddying up with Korea could give them more leverage with China in the future.

However, arguing that Koreans are an undeserving race, and therefore should not get the vote is daft.

I believe the U.S. has the right idea on not being taxed without representation

And of course you also realize that non-citizens cannot vote in any Federal election, and aside from a very, very few exceptions cannot vote in local elections either.

I tire of the taken-out-of-context "no taxation without representation" line. The argument in no possible way applies, and here is what every single person out there who uses this argument seems to be missing:

The argument "no taxation without representation" was made by a group of British citizens who were being made to pay taxes that other British citizens (those back in England) were not being made to pay, and all tax revenues collected were being sent back to England. And despite being British citizens, the people being taxed were not allowed to elect a representative to Parliament - the only voice they had was a Crown-appointed "representative" who had probably never even been to the Colonies and couldn't have cared less about what a bunch of Colonial rabble were thinking.

In other words, if you were a Japanese citizen living on an island somewhere, being made to pay taxes to the national government while simultaneously being denied the right to vote and elect a representative to your own government, then the "no taxation without representation" analogy would apply. But the analogy does not apply to foreigners living in Japan, or the US, or much of anywhere else.

a complete fucking moron. There are a lot of countries who do not limit voting to citizens.

Tell you what, if we are going to limit voting to citizens only, why don't we limit taxpaying to citizens only?

P.S. Japan is not slightly racist, it is the most racist country in the world. I have lived in many, and have never experienced anything like this sick, racist place.

does apply, and is a relevant, and applicable principle here. Just because the situation is not exactly the same, does not mean that the applicability of the principle is appropriate. It is appropriately applicable in this case.

Even if it is not convenient for the bilingual Japanese people, and the lapdogs of the Japanese who post here, it is still an applicable principle.

the thousands of Japanese living in Korea are allowed to vote?

It would be interesting to find out.

No Taxation Without Representation does apply, and is a relevant, and applicable principle here. Just because the situation is not exactly the same, does not mean that the applicability of the principle is appropriate. It is appropriately applicable in this case.

As long as my taxes are used to pay the salaries of elected representatives and as funding for policies they implement that may directly affect me, I agree.

6. That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people, in assembly, ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community, have the right of suffrage, and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for publick uses without their own consent, or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the publick good.

I think you need to re-read the post you were applying to. The phrase "taxation without representation" doesn't mean what you think it does.

Do you think that all Japanese citizens of voting age know everything about politics? About every consequence their decision makes? I know hundreds of people who vote without really understanding why because there is so much emphasis on how we should exercise our right to vote. So who is to say that foreigners in Japan don't know more than the average citizen of Japan on the subject of politics? And in that respect their vote could benefit Japan more than a the vote of a Japanese person.

First of all, let it be noted that here in the US virtually everyone who breathes the air is taxed. Taxation without representation, you say? I suspect that you would not be facetious enough to suggest that some foreign tourist spending money at Disneyland (and, therefore, incurring a sales tax) should be allowed to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Secondly, the Japanese government has long focused on its citizens and not so much on its long-time residents. That is understandable. We do it here in the US, too. The current administration, however, should not kowtow to Korean pressure and grant voting rights to residents. The proper thing to do with the long-time residents, particularly those have married Japanese citizens, would be to afford them proper citizenship.

I suspect that you would not be facetious enough to suggest that some foreign tourist spending money at Disneyland (and , therefore, incurring a sales tax) should be allowed to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

No one has suggested any such idea, so why even mention it? Anyway, foreign tourists can always duck out of paying taxes by buying things in duty free shops, and if they do have to pay tax on the items when they get back home they can at least vote for or against the people taking and spending their tax money.

The current administration, however, should not kowtow to Korean pressure and grant voting rights to residents. The proper thing to do with the long-time residents, particularly those have married Japanese citizens, would be to afford them proper citizenship.

As that's ever going to happen. It would still mean enfranchising more people who are not full-blooded kokumin and, even worse, allowing them to vote and run for office in national elections. The Nihonjinron crowd will have none of it. They've managed to get the idea of limited suffrage for PRs nixed, imagine the stink they'll kick up if it's ever seriously suggested that a bunch of Chinese, Koreans and other assorted undesirables get all the rights of native Japanese. A handful they can probably just about tolerate. A rampaging horde threatening to wipe out the natives by breeding more prodigiously? I doubt it.

Anyway, what exactly is so terribly wrong with allowing PRs to vote in local elections? What harm would it actually cause? As these are people who have demonstrated their commitment to Japan by applying for the right to live here permanently, which the authorities have found no reason to deny them, it seems quite reasonable to me that they should have some, but definitely not all, of the rights of Japanese citizens.

Only Japan doenst allow foreign taxpayers to vote in local elections. Every other democracy does, from the UK to South Korea.

Japan has its head in the sand and has a declining population. In 50 years it will lose one third of its population. Why? Because no one wants to immigrate there and be treated worse than a dog.

Yes, literally. Because a dog can be registered as a family member in Japan law, but you, the human foreigner CANNOT. even if you are married to a Japanese. Got that?

In contrast, the UK will have 10 million more people in 50 years. More people means more taxpayers and more workers.

The future of the UK is assured. Unlike Japan.

You have to be a citizen in Australia and New Zealand so your statement is to general, I think most other countries require citizenship, otherwise I could vote in any country I choose to.
All and every are not accurate words to use because your argument can and will be shot down in flames.

Japan and it's politicians love to procrasinate and if the sunrise party have any clout, god help any non Japanese living in Japan for the longterm!

Foreign long term residents should vote kotasu shut up
japan should be true to all citizens no racism.

To vote one must nationlise in japan.
But this law if passed would be great

Learn to spell.

long term citizens from overseas in japan should vote

Any politician who would oppose new resident voting isnot worth listening too

Dear lord..I see the beautiful Japan going down with the go-ahead to this decision..It's a very obvious NONO!..It's their country..HELL GO MESS WITH YOUR OWN!.

Sorry, Japan will disappear if it doesnt start importing new people of non Japanese blood. In 1000 years, at the current rate, there will only be 2 Japanese people left.

In 2009 though, non Japanese people coming to Japan fell for the first time. Why come to a country where you ll have to pay high taxes but not get any rights? Where you are demonized? There are better places to go, or if you re interested in just money, then China.

Only ONE group continues to come to Japan in increasing numbers. Guess which? Japan's favorite country, the one they look up to, its the United..

No, sorry. Its CHINA. I was being ironic. Sorry Ishihara and Shina phobes.

Oh dear. But look on the bright side. Chinese can read Japanese Kanji easily. So they can work as your nurses and so on, well IF Japan stops trying to treat them like slave labor on "trainee" programs of course.

Japan, learn to get on with the Chinese for your own survival. They are in fact the ones who can help you survive as a race.

ps. I am not Chinese.

Don't make me laugh. The only reason increased immigration is being discussed at all is on the 'assumption' that that these guys can be ripped off for decades to come. No rip-off potential, no immigration - simple as that.

I guess everybody who earns a living and has stayed for many years in a certain country deserves the right to vote especially if their desire to do so is good. They are under the country's government and they too know who they should put in the positions.

water ionizer

Why would Japan allow them to have full citizenship rights to live, work and participate in society fully but not allow them to vote? Isnt that taking advantage of their contribution to society but depriving them of a basic right?
Eddie the Guy!

I think it is okay. It's not like if they allowed it the non-Japanese citizen will rule over, don't they? If they are already a permanent resident there and will be staying for good, they should be counted as one of them. Ana having the rights to vote is one of their privilege, isn't it?

Here, the above topic has described about the biggest thing. It specifies that foreigners should not vote in japan. It tells about the who are staying for a long time& they are not the permanent resident of japan, they can not vote . Because they are the expatriates for japan.

foreiginers should vote if they become citizens in japan
weither born or japan or not.
japan needs to join the 21st centery .

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