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  • Mainichi: DPJ split over bill to give NJ permanent residents right to vote

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on November 13th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

    Hi Blog.  Here’s a little update on the current debate regarding granting local suffrage to PR holders.  As ruling parties go, the Social Democrats led by Fukushima Mizuho support it, the (tiny) Kokumin Shintou led by Kamei Shizuka opposes it, and the DPJ itself (as usual) is split.  No surprises there, but we’ll see how the cards fall if and when it’s brought to a vote.  Of course, watching public policy being made is famously like watching sausages being made (you don’t want to know what goes into it), but the fact that the Cabinet in general supports it is telling.  And enough people are feeling threatened by it that there is quite visible public protest (but I’ll get to that later), which is also telling (if people felt no threat of it actually coming to pass, they wouldn’t bother).

    My take is that whenever you have an opposition party in power (particularly a leftist one), you always have deep internal divisions, because the left in particular has trouble rallying around one issue.  The right has it a lot easier:  either rally around money issues (very clear cut), or else just keep the status quo (“there’s a good reason why things are the way they are, so if they ain’t broke…”).  So the DPJ having divisions and mixed feelings about this is only natural — it’s par for the course on the political spectrum.  Majority rules, anyway.  So let people grouse about it for an adequate amount of time, and let’s see how the vote turns out.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Government split over bill to give non-Japanese permanent residents right to vote
    Mainichi Daily News November 7, 2009.
    Courtesy HJ
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20091107p2a00m0na009000c.html

    A bill proposed by a key member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections has split the party.

    DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka has declared that he intends to submit a bill to the current session, and recommended that parties allow their legislators to freely decide whether to vote for or against the bill.

    His move is widely viewed by many politicians as an attempt to drive a wedge between the largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is reluctant to give foreigners the right to vote, and its former coalition partner Komeito, which is enthusiastic about the move.

    However, the issue has drawn opposition from within the DPJ and the coalition government it leads.

    DPJ legislators are divided over the issue. There are numerous legislators within the governing party in favor of giving permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections, including Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa.

    However, there are a certain number of opponents, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno.

    “There are over 140 new members of the House of Representatives who have just been elected to their first term in the latest general election. It’s necessary to hold in-depth discussions on the issue within the party,” Hirano told a news conference on Oct. 22.

    Moreover, in order to ensure that the bill be passed into law, it will require an extension to the Diet session — which has drawn complaints from officials at the prime minister’s office and ministries, for fear that a longer Diet session could adversely affect their compilation of the fiscal 2010 state budget draft.

    The government has limited the number of bills it submitted to the current Diet session to make sure that it can complete the compilation of the fiscal 2010 budget draft by the end of this year.

    Even Hatoyama, who is in favor of the permanent foreign residents’ rights to vote in local elections, has taken a cautious approach toward the bill. “I’m enthusiastic about the move, but it’s an extremely serious theme within the party. There are various opinions on the issue. We have no intention of trying to forcibly push ahead with the bill,” Hatoyama told a Lower House Budget Committee session on Thursday.

    Furthermore, Yamaoka’s move runs counter to the DPJ’s policy of leaving policy-making entirely to the Cabinet and banning legislator-sponsored bills in principle.

    Even Komeito, which is in favor of the move, has displayed skepticism. “I don’t think we’ve completely formed a consensus among party members,” a senior member said.

    LDP Secretary-General Tadamori Oshima also voiced opposition to allowing its members to decide whether to vote for or against the bill at their own discretion.

    “It’s different from the Organ Transplantation Law (that political parties allowed their legislators to freely decide to vote for or against). It’s a matter involving sovereignty. I sense a bit of resistance to the recommendation,” he said.
    ENDS

    臨時国会:外国人参政権焦点に 政府・民主党、足並みの乱れ露呈--法案提出浮上
    毎日新聞 2009年11月7日 東京朝刊
    http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/news/20091107ddm002010042000c.html
    臨時国会の焦点に6日、永住外国人への地方参政権付与法案が急浮上した。民主党の山岡賢次国対委員長が今国会に議員立法で提出し、党議拘束をかけずに採決する考えを示したためだ。参政権の付与に積極的な公明党と、消極的な自民党の間にくさびを打ち込む狙いがあるとみられるが、法案の成立を図るには会期延長は必至だ。10年度予算編成への影響を懸念する政府は反発し、逆に政府・民主党の足並みの乱れが露呈する結果となった。

    「今国会で(の提出を)考えている」

    山岡氏は6日、民主・自民両党の国対委員長会談を終えた後、記者団に語った。民主党は政権交代後、政策決定を内閣に一元化し、議員立法を原則行わない方針だったが、早速、例外が生じる。

    同党内では鳩山由紀夫首相や岡田克也外相、小沢一郎幹事長ら付与への賛成議員が多い一方で、平野博文官房長官、松野頼久同副長官ら反対派も一定数おり、意見集約は終わっていない。平野氏は10月22日の記者会見で「(衆院選で初当選した)新人が百四十数人いる。党内でしっかり議論する場面が必要だ」と強調しており、議員立法での提出は党内の意見集約を省略する意図もある、とみられる。

    小沢氏は、衆院選前から在日本大韓民国民団(民団)の会合に出席するなど接触を続けており、民団側は付与に賛成する候補者の支援に踏み切っていた。

    政府は10年度予算の年内編成を確実にするため、今国会への提出法案を絞り込んでいる。賛成派の鳩山首相も、5日の衆院予算委員会で「前向きに考えるが、党内でも大変大きなテーマ。さまざまな意見があり、強引に押し通さない」と述べた。

    野党側も、付与に積極的な公明党でさえ「党の意思と確定したとは思えない」(幹部)と疑心暗鬼だ。自民党の大島理森幹事長は6日、党議拘束なしの採決に関し記者団に「臓器移植法とは異質だ。主権にかかわる問題で、いささか抵抗感を持つ」と反対の考えを示した。【田中成之、田所柳子】

    5 Responses to “Mainichi: DPJ split over bill to give NJ permanent residents right to vote”

    1. Chand Says:

      Does anyone know if the proposed bill gives permanent residents the right to stand for election? Or will it be some kind of half measure thing?

    2. Frodis Says:

      According to this morning’s DY, the DPJ has postponed submission of the bill and it will have to wait until next year’s regular diet session to have another chance of being submitted. Other bills were given higher priority for submission this term.

    3. John (Yokohama) Says:

      Here’s an update from today:

      “DPJ postpones submission of foreigner voting rights bill”

      http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20091114TDY02310.htm

    4. Massimo Says:

      “They include bills…… for special measures to cope with the new type of influenza…. The committee leaders confirmed that those bills should have top priority. ”

      Mmmmm….if they say so.
      Very sad news though.
      I do hope this will not just mean: post-poning = forgetting.
      Next time won’t there be some other priority bills to be passed….?
      This is called 流す…

    5. Jeff Korpa Says:

      Hi Debito:

      Here’s a follow-up to the original article submitted by HJ:

      Opinion split over giving permanent foreign residents local voting rights
      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20091124p2a00m0na021000c.html

      鳩山政権の通信簿:マニフェスト検証 2カ月目 「聖域」に修正のメス
      http://mainichi.jp/select/seiji/administration/tsushinbo/news/20091124ddm010010108000c.html

      The part of interest in the J version is at the bottom:

      ◆永住外国人地方参政権

      Note that opinion is split only in the the Hatoyama cabinet and among the LDP — in the public opinion poll that Mainichi conducted, the result was almost two-thirds in favor / one-third against.

      -JK

      Opinion split over giving permanent foreign residents local voting rights

      In the House of Representatives election on Aug. 30 this year, a 21-year-old South Korean man in Japan born to a Japanese mother and South Korean father exercised his right to vote for the first time.

      A revision to the Nationality Law in 1984 permitted children born from 1985 onwards to hold dual nationality up until the age of 22 if one of their parents was Japanese. Still, the existence of people such as the 21-year-old, who has both dual nationality and the right to vote, is not widely known in Japan.

      Next year, the 21-year-old, who must choose between the two nationalities, plans to follow the path of his brother, who is two years his elder, and select Japanese citizenship.

      “I didn’t know my Korean name until my third year of elementary school, and I can’t speak Korean even now. I was teased about my Korean name in the past, and I have lots of Korean friends living in Japan, but my awareness as a Korean is, frankly speaking, low,” he says.

      In the Lower House election, the 21-year-old voted for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which has pushed for local-election voting rights for long-term foreign residents. He attended several meetings with South Koreans in Japan, and though he was unsympathetic with their call to be given suffrage in exchange for their obligation to pay taxes, he voted for the DPJ as he wanted his friends to be given the right to vote.

      “The opponents (of voting rights for foreigners) say that Koreans living in Japan will cast anti-Japanese votes, but I don’t think so. If they are given voting rights, then voting from the perspective of being a South Korean in Japan will cease. They will vote while thinking about how they can improve their lives,” the 21-year-old said.

      There are about 910,000 foreigners in Japan who hold permanent residence, comprising some 420,000 special permanent residents from the former colonized Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, and 490,000 who have met special requirements such as residing in Japan for 10 years or more. It is estimated that there are 470,000 Koreans with permanent residence, more than half of the total.

      A proposal made by the DPJ’s federation of legislators in May last year suggested introducing voting rights only for residents from countries with which Japan has diplomatic relations, thereby excluding North Koreans. If the proposal materializes, then most of the foreign voters will be South Koreans, Chinese and Brazilians, who make up a large percentage of the foreign permanent residents in Japan.

      Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa and other party officials have pushed to give permanent foreign residents local voting rights, from both a historical perspective and the perspective of “fraternal” politics that the DPJ has promoted. Ozawa has called for the early submission of a bill to change the law, but the government’s priorities remain unclear. The move was incorporated in the party’s list of policies and its election promises, but was left out of its election manifesto.

      Tomomi Inada, a Liberal Democratic Party legislator who opposes giving foreign permanent residents voting rights, argues, “If local assembly members and heads supported by foreigners appear, then it will influence local Diet members. It will constrain Japan’s national interests.” This line of thinking is also deeply rooted in the DPJ.

      Fears have been raised that if suffrage is granted in areas such as Osaka’s Ikuno Ward, where foreigners account for 24 percent of the population, then it will lead to friction between supporters and opponents. This gives rise to the argument, “Japanese nationals should decide on the future of Japan — permanent foreign residents can gain suffrage by obtaining Japanese citizenship.”

      At the same time, Katsuhiko Okazaki, a graduate professor at Aichi Gakuin University, who supports voting rights for foreign permanent residents, points out, “There are South Koreans living in Japan who obtain Japanese citizenship to get all the rights, but there is still resistance to losing their South Korean nationality. If dual citizenship were granted, the problem would be solved all at once.”

      Okazaki says that the principles of lineage and exclusivism are deeply rooted in Japan, but the fact that there are already cases of dual citizenship, as is the case with South Koreans in Japan who have voting rights, shows that the concept of what constitutes a national has diversified. He adds that there have been changes in the sense of belonging that is associated with nationality.

      Next year marks 100 years since Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula. It is certain the issue of suffrage for foreigners will emerge as a major point of discussion.

      ——————

      鳩山政権の通信簿:マニフェスト検証 2カ月目 「聖域」に修正のメス

       政権発足1カ月に合わせて95兆円超という史上最大規模の10年度予算概算要求をまとめたが、厳しい経済情勢を踏まえ、一転して削り込みへと突き進んだのが鳩山政権2カ月目の姿だった。そこでは衆院選マニフェスト(政権公約)関連予算も「聖域」ではなくなった。「めいっぱい膨らませた風船を割れないようにいかに空気を減らすか」。政府関係者はこう漏らす。マニフェスト実行に向け修正を迫られる場面が相次いだ。

       ◇低税収で予算縮減 小沢氏肝いり「戸別所得補償」も対象
       「戸別所得補償が相当削られそうだ。力を貸してくれないか」。山田正彦副農相は19日、民主党の奥村展三総務委員長に相談を持ち掛けた。山田氏は18日、農業者戸別所得補償(概算要求額5618億円)の事業内容や金額の算定根拠について菅直人副総理兼国家戦略担当相のヒアリングを受け、厳しい追及ぶりに危機感を覚えた。

       戸別所得補償は小沢一郎幹事長の肝いり事業だ。小沢代表時代に役員室長を務めた側近、奥村氏への「SOS」は、小沢氏の影響力を頼って党側から予算縮減を阻止すべく働き掛けてほしいとのサインだった。

       背景には昨年来の景気低迷がある。95兆円の要求規模に対し、仙谷由人行政刷新担当相は09年度税収が「38兆円」を下回る可能性に言及。一方、鳩山由紀夫首相は赤字国債発行額を44兆円以下に抑える方針を示し、マニフェスト関連予算について「政権を取る前にざっくりと決めた額が本当に必要なのか」と縮減を容認している。

       国家戦略室が担う論点整理は戸別所得補償のほか高速道路無料化、高校無償化、子ども手当、暫定税率廃止と主要政策が対象だ。菅氏は20日までにこれら政策の担当副大臣、政務官から聴取を終えた。マニフェストに10年度予算額が明示されていない戸別所得補償は、高速道路無料化と並ぶ予算縮減の当面のターゲットという。

       「戸別所得補償はマニフェストの主要政策。減らすと根幹にかかわる」。赤松広隆農相は20日の閣議でかみついた。小沢代表の下で選対委員長を務め、戸別所得補償が自民党の支持基盤である農村票取り込みにいかに威力を発揮してきたか実感している。「マニフェストからの後退は農村票の民主党離れに直結する」というわけだ。

       菅氏は20日の記者会見で「『縮減』とか報道されているが、マニフェストの実現を図るというのが大原則だ」と強調してみせた。「財政規律」か「公約死守」か。菅氏のジレンマは、鳩山政権の苦境を体現している。【野原大輔、念佛明奈】

       ◇普天間移設 「沖縄も米も」首相模索
       <県外移転の道を引き続き模索すべきだ。戦略環境の変化を踏まえて国外移転を目指す--沖縄ビジョン08>

        ↓

       <最低でも県外移設に向けて積極的に行動を起こす--7月19日、鳩山民主党代表>

        ↓

       <在日米軍基地のあり方についても見直しの方向で臨む--マニフェスト=7月27日>

       鳩山首相が米軍普天間飛行場(沖縄県宜野湾市)の移設問題を巡り、衆院選で訴えた「県外・国外移設」の公約とキャンプ・シュワブ沿岸部(同県名護市)に移設する日米合意とのはざまであい路にはまった。在沖縄海兵隊グアム移転の予算執行を盾に「合意通りの年内決着」を迫る米側。「沖縄県民の心も受け止めなければいけない」と引き延ばしたい首相。どう活路を見いだすのか。

       「仮に現行計画を容認するとしても、あくまでも通過点です。日米同盟の深化と沖縄の負担軽減という全体像を新たに示し、そこにつなげなければいけない。とにかく米側にボールを打ち返すことです」

       オバマ米大統領との日米首脳会談から3日後の16日午前、首相官邸。軍事アナリストの小川和久氏が鳩山首相に対し、持論を説いた。時折メモを取りながらひたすら話を聞いた首相。会談は約40分に及んだ。

       小川氏は「普天間の機能をキャンプ・シュワブか(同じ沖縄の)キャンプ・ハンセンに移し、海兵隊の有事駐留が可能な環境を作る」「米軍嘉手納基地への統合には反対。嘉手納基地はハブ空港として使うべきだ」との持論を月刊誌に寄稿していた。会談は、小川氏の寄稿文を読んだ首相が呼び掛けたものだった。

       オバマ大統領は鳩山首相に「海兵隊の8000人をどうするかもある。早く結論を出した方が評価される」と迫った。首相周辺は「年内に何らかの判断はしなくてはならないというのが首相の念頭にはある」と語る。

       しかし、その判断が単なる現行計画容認に終わっては、衆院選を通して「県外・国外」への期待を高めた沖縄県民の気持ちに応えることはできない。首相は、ひとまず米側の要請に応えて現行計画をベースに再編を進めつつ、沖縄の負担軽減につながる新たな提案を米側に示そうと模索を続けているとみられる。

       21日には記者団にこう語った。「いかに日米協議で日本の意思を伝えていくか。日本国民、沖縄県民の思いをできるだけ反映できるように努力しないといけない」【西田進一郎】

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