Hi Blog. Oh well, never mind the DPJ trying to split New Komeito off from the LDP. Seems the Suffrage for Permanent Residents issue has set the DPJ against itself as well, according to Japan Today. This issue is not settled by any means (the DPJ is all over the map ideologically anyway, so this degree of dissent is quite normal, actually), so let’s see where the kerfuffle goes. But for all the people that say that Japan’s NJ demographics and labor issues are politically insignificant, we may in fact be seeing quite a few fault lines between old and new Japan after all… Arudou Debito
DPJ holds opposing meetings on foreigners voting in local elections
Japan Today/Kyodo News Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 07:04 EST
Courtesy of Adam Wallace
TOKYO — Members of the Democratic Party of Japan on Wednesday held two separate meetings, one involving lawmakers and proxies who support allowing foreigners with permanent residence status to vote in local elections and another involving those opposed to the idea.
While DPJ members emphasize that they will not allow the issue to create an intra-party division, the development apparently shows that members of the largest opposition party do not see eye-to-eye on the matter.
About 80 DPJ lawmakers and proxies attended an inaugural meeting of a group supporting the idea shortly past noon, while approximately 50 gathered in the afternoon for a study session opposing it.
Both gatherings, held in the Diet building, were attended by 23 parliamentarians each.
DPJ Vice President Katsuya Okada, who was elected chairman of the group supporting the idea, expressed his readiness to work on drafting a bill to grant local suffrage to permanent residents for submission to the Diet during the ongoing regular session through June.
“This issue has been an ardent wish for the DPJ for many years. There are various opinions within the party, but we want to gain the understanding of many and to present the bill” to parliament, Okada said at the outset of the group’s meeting.
In the other gathering, Kozo Watanabe, the DPJ’s top adviser, said it was necessary to discuss the issue cautiously while seeking unity among all party members.
“It is a very important issue. We will not start out with a conclusion but rather study how we can gain the understanding of the people,” Watanabe said.
Those attending the meeting opposing the idea decided to request that the issue be discussed by the DPJ’s shadow cabinet.
DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa has expressed support for the idea to allow permanent residents to vote in local elections and made remarks to that effect when he met with an envoy of South Korea’s President-elect Lee Myung Bak in Tokyo in mid-January.
The South Korean government has repeatedly called on Japan to allow permanent residents of Korean descent, who make up the bulk of foreign residents in Japan, to vote in local elections. South Korea allowed foreigners who have lived in the country for more than three years after obtaining permanent residency to vote in local elections for the first time in June 2006. (emphasis added)
While many members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party are opposed to granting local suffrage to permanent residents, its coalition partner, the New Komeito party, has long pushed for the move.
LDP lawmakers who oppose the idea argue it could violate the Constitution, saying the supreme law gives the Japanese people the “inalienable right” to choose electorates in Japan.
Under current laws, only citizens with Japanese nationality aged 20 or over are eligible to vote in local and national elections.
Some municipalities in Japan have passed ordinances to allow foreign citizens with permanent resident status to vote in local referendums. (Kyodo News)