Aso presides over sinking LDP ship, slams DPJ Hatoyama for being open to NJ suffrage


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Hi Blog.  Election season has officially kicked off, as of yesterday (whadda time for me to take a vacation!), and here we have the slow and steady disintegration of the LDP (Japan Times speculates not on whether opposition DPJ will win, but by how much).  Even former LDP independent Tanaka Makiko just joined the DPJ.

But where this dovetails with is the long-standing issue of suffrage for Permanent Residents (particularly the Special PRs, who have lived here for generations as foreigners).  DPJ head Hatoyama is making liberalizing overtures, while PM Aso tries to claim Japan for the Japanese only.  This according to a Japan Times article courtesy of John I’ve excerpted below.

Personally, I’m glad Aso stayed on as LDP head after the disastrous Tokyo Prefectural elections last July.  He’s running the party into the ground.  And making it all that much easier for the DPJ to assume the reins.  One fear, however, a friend expressed to me this morning is that too much defection to the DPJ might make it the same party with a different name.  But I’m not going to go all that pessimistic yet.  A change of political party after five decades is good.

Eyes on the election, everyone.  And I should have a Japanese letter of protest for you to take to your local McDonald’s re the ludicrous “Mr James” Campaign up here by tomorrow.  Arudou Debito on holiday.  Kinda.


The Japan Times Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009
Down in polls, Aso says only LDP can provide security (excerpt)

… Aso also expressed his disapproval of DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama’s willingness to give local-level suffrage to foreign nationals with permanent residency.

“Hatoyama says that Japan is not a country just for Japanese, but if that is the case, then whose country is it for?” Aso asked. “Honestly speaking, this isn’t something that will be resolved by just granting (foreigners) suffrage and it is likely that there will be many more difficult problems.”

While many lawmakers in the DPJ and New Komeito are for granting foreigners the right to vote in local elections, many conservative LDP members have expressed strong reluctance.

The prime minister added that the number of descendants of Koreans who lived in Japan before the war and were forced to take Japanese nationality at that time is declining and that “we must consider various things like whether (suffrage for foreigners) is even necessary.”


14 comments on “Aso presides over sinking LDP ship, slams DPJ Hatoyama for being open to NJ suffrage

  • Allowing permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections is becoming the norm in more and more countries. I myself enjoyed this right in Sweden as far back as the 1980s.

    When sounding out public opinion in Japan, why don’t they ever ask interviewees how they feel their many compatriots living overseas ought to be treated, and what rights they themselves would wish to be granted if they were obliged to pay taxes in another jurisdiction?

  • Deepspacebeans says:

    Fuck Aso.

    I already knew he was a prick long before he became PM, with that whole Nonaka thing, but this is a man for whom I can see no redeeming qualities.

  • One of the primary reasons why the LDP is doing so well seems to be all the media attention they are receiving. The above Japan Times article you link gives me an impression that JT simply wants DPJ to win desperately. Aso is being bashed for every minor blips he has done (oh no, he misread a kanji! Oh no, he goes to a fancy bar! …okay, the last bit is not even a blip at all that he shouldn’t be criticized for), while DPJ party members get hardly the equivalent media attention when there’s a scandal on their side.

    — Er, Ozawa?

  • Actually I do share your friend’s worries Debito.Rats like Tanaka Makiko (whose father’s name is synonymous with ‘LDP corruption’) are already jumping off the sinking ship…She is the DPJ candidate in her constituency in Niigata.Another exemple is Taki Makoto, who has held many government offices including Secretary of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications in the second Mori cabinet and the first and second Koizumi cabinets and even rose to the position of Vice-Minister of Justice in 2004/2005.After his humiliating fiasco with the Shinto Nippon he is now a proud DPJ candidate in Nara prefecture.I admit that part of my negative feelings towards the guy is the harsh gaijin treatment that I got in the hands of his staffers while attending one of his speeches.(We all know that in life everything’s personal…)So I hope the party that started off as ‘socialist’ doesn’t end up being LDP-2!
    Anyway it’s election fever, so let’s be nerdish and enjoy it…

  • Hey guys, why don`t we fax or email to Mr. Hatoyama when/if he wins elections? Do you think he can change Policies implemented by LDP? I believe he can, but need kick from us. First thing I would ask is STOP fingerprinting and photographing at least legal residents, not only PRs, all of us legally living here & STOP separating families at the same time.
    ID cards would be next on my list.

  • Hi Debito:

    Seems to me like the DPJ resembles South Korea’s Uri Party (ヨルリン・ウリ党 — i.e. a party of opposition rather than a party that has clearly defined goals beyond ousting the incumbents).

    I believe that a DPJ-led government may be rather chaotic and short-lived.


    — DPJ has a manifesto clarifying its goals. It’s the party which pioneered that many years ago.

  • Suffrage is a right reserved for nationals in most democratic countries. You can disagree with that but you cannot rightfully say that it is a xenophobic posture. [further illogical and factually-incorrect nonsense deleted]

  • Aso is just showing his racism yet again. The man is truly clueless; the answer to his question “Who is Japan for?” is “everyone who lives here”.
    Suffrage is a universal human right, but as Aso shows, he doesn’t comprehend such things as rights, does he? The sooner he is gone, the better.

  • Jean Patrick says:

    What this bunch of morons from the LDP could not understand is that we as legal residents of Japan and taxpayers, should have the right to voice our opinions on how this taxes are spent to say the least. [cheap swipe at Aso deleted]

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    On a related note, I saw the LDP ads which are based around the “protect Japan” slogan. One mentions North Korea and terrorism specifically, and the LDP is going to protect us…
    Maybe ensuring that non-citizens having voting rights in local elections (which is not in and of itself racist, I admit: but not even being willing to discuss it…?) falls under the “protect Japan” category.

  • If one wants to vote, just make the effort to get citizenship. If all PR/eijuken holders are granted suffrage, what’s the difference between citizenship and PR?

    The “tokubetsu eijuken” holders are probably in a different category, due to their unique history. But, I do not think regular eijuken holders should be entitled to vote.

    — It’s also pretty tough to get Regular PR as well; a case could be made that they deserve suffrage too.

  • To the extent “tokubetsu eijuken” deserve suffrage, it is unrelated to how tough it was for them to obtain such status. Rather, it is because they were once forced to become Japanese citizens (or closely related to such people, as I understand it), and most seem to be de facto citizens – they were born here (did not naturalize), only speak Japanese, etc. In effect, they became tokubetsu eijuken holders as an accident of birth (or against their will in case of those forced to take citizenship and subsequently tokubetsu eijuken status).

    Just because obtaining regular PR may be “pretty tough,” however, is no justification for suffrage. If one is motivated enough to desire voting rights, one just needs to take the necessary steps to become a Japanese citizen (as Debito himself has done).

    One can choose to apply for PR, or to take the more serious step of going for Japanese citizenship, along with the accompanying duties and rights, including voting rights. My understanding is that there was no choice involved in most Zainichi being categorized as tokubetsu eijuken.

    Aside from procedural reasons, frankly, if I was a Japanese national, I would be concerned if suffrage was granted to PR’s (other than tokubetsu eijuken holders). I question whether PR’s have demonstrated sufficient commitment to participating in Japanese society. Moreover, many PRs are still entitled to vote in other countries – a U.S. citizen with Japanese PR status certainly would be, for life, if that person retained such status. It seems unfair to let someone vote in 2 different countries. I’d rather they pick one or the other.

    [straw man argument deleted]

  • To Edokko –

    “One can choose to apply for PR, or to take the more serious step of going for Japanese citizenship, along with the accompanying duties and rights, including voting rights”

    So you would limit the right to vote to only those who have become PR or Japanese citizens. You do of course understand that this requires a minimum time of 10 years. So during those 10 years all of us non-citzens who have the obligations of Japanese citizens, but not the same right to vote, get to keep paying our taxes with no voting rights. Thanks for the support.

    In the USA there was this little thing that happened back in 1776, it was called the American Revolution. One of the major themes that came out of that revolution was the concept of “No Taxation without Representation”.

    The growing immigrant rights movement in Japan has brought immigrants’ struggle for political power center stage. The way to give non-citizens more political power would be to give them the vote. But voting is only for citizens, right? Not really.

    Let’s look at the USA as an example. Although it’s not widely known, noncitizen voting is as old as American itself. Noncitizens voted from 1776 until 1926 in forty states and federal territories in local, state and even federal elections. Noncitizens also held public office. In a country where “no taxation without representation” was a rallying cry for revolution, such a proposition was not far-fetched. It was common sense that government should rest on the consent of the governed. The idea that noncitizens should have the vote is older, was practiced longer, and is more consistent with democratic ideals than the idea that they should not.

    Historically, voting and citizenship worked both ways. The right to vote has never been intrinsically tied to citizenship, which is why women and African Americans — who were citizens — were widely denied the vote until 1920 and 1965, respectively. Voting has always been about who has a say and who will have influence over the actions of government.

    This historical precedent is making a comeback in some circles today. Currently, noncitizens vote in local elections in six towns in Maryland and in Chicago school elections. Over the past decade, noncitizen voting campaigns have been launched in at least a dozen jurisdictions from coast to coast, including Washington D.C., California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    Most recently, New York City Council members submitted a bill that would grant the right to vote to legal noncitizens in all local elections. This legislation is gaining significant support and is feeding another avenue of debate about the newcomers, the nature of citizenship, and the future of democracy in America.

    Now I know what you will probably say. My example is the USA and even there non-citizens lost the right to vote in 1926. Well you are right … but, at least I’ve provided some support for why NJ citizens should have the righ to vote, I don’t see the Japanese government offering supported explanations for why they shouldn’t.


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