DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.


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Hi Blog.  Now here’s a disappointment.  Looks like the DPJ caved in with all the pressure (and outright xenophobia and nastiness) from the opposition regarding local suffrage for NJ PRs.  Admittedly, the DPJ didn’t do much of a job justifying the bill to the public.  And where were people like DPJ Dietmember Tsurunen going to bat for the policy, for Pete’s sake?  Disappointing.  Not just because of course Debito.org is in support of the measure (reasons why here), but also because it’s one more clear failure in the DPJ’s Manifesto.  First the “temporary gas tax” backpedal, now this.  It’s making the DPJ look like they can’t reform things after all.  Sad.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo.


DPJ postpones bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents
(Mainichi Japan) February 27, 2010
, Courtesy lots of people

The government has abandoned proposing a bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents in Japan during the current Diet session, in the face of intense opposition from coalition partner People’s New Party (PNP).

“It’s extremely difficult for the government to sponsor such a bill due to differences over the issue between the ruling coalition partners,” said Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi.

Now, the attention is focused on whether ruling and opposition parties will launch a campaign to pass the bill as legislator-initiated legislation.

The suffrage bill was expected to be based on a draft that the DPJ prepared before it took over the reins of government, and it proposes to grant local suffrage to foreign residents from countries with which Japan has diplomatic ties. The DPJ’s proposal will cover some 420,000 Korean and other special permanent residents — both those who arrived in Japan before World War II and their offspring — as well as about 490,000 foreign residents from other countries.

The campaign to enact legislation on foreign suffrage in local elections dates back to 15 years ago.

Encouraged by the 1995 Supreme Court ruling that “foreign suffrage is not banned by the Constitution,” over 1,500 local assemblies adopted a resolution to support and promote legislation to grant local suffrage to permanent foreign residents in Japan — some 910,000 people as of the end of 2008.

However, as the passage of the bill becomes a real possibility along with the change of government, various views have emerged.

The National Association of Chairpersons of Prefectural Assemblies held an interparty discussion meeting on local suffrage for permanent foreign residents on Feb. 9 in Tokyo.

“It’s not the time for national isolation,” said Azuma Konno, a House of Councillors member of the DPJ, as he explained the party’s policy on the legislation at the meeting, raising massive jeers and objections from participants.

“We can introduce legislation which will make it easier for foreigners to be naturalized,” said Kazuyoshi Hatakeyama, speaker of the Miyagi Prefectural Assembly, while Kochi Prefectural Assembly Vice Speaker Eiji Morita countered, saying: “The DPJ excluded the suffrage bill from its manifesto for last summer’s election.”

The Mie Prefectural Assembly, in which DPJ members form the largest political group, was the only chapter to support the granting of local suffrage to permanent foreign residents.

“The argument against suffrage rings of ethnic nationalism,” said Speaker Tetsuo Mitani.

The fact that the DPJ’s legislation plan met with strong opposition during the meeting highlighted the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s strong sway over local assemblies, where its members manage to remain as the largest political group.

Opponents of the bill argue that it is unreasonable for the central government to make decisions on regional electoral systems while pledging to promote decentralization of authority. Furthermore, the national association of chairpersons adopted a special resolution calling on the government to focus more on the opinions of local assemblies on Jan. 21.

During the LDP Policy Research Council’s national meeting on Feb. 10, LDP lawmakers instructed its prefectural chapters to promote resolutions opposing foreign suffrage at respective local assemblies, in a bid to undermine the Hatoyama administration and the DPJ in cooperation with regional politics.

According to the chairpersons’ association, before the change of government last summer, a total of 34 prefectures supported the granting of local suffrage to foreign residents; however, eight reversed their positions after the DPJ came into power. The trend is expected to accelerate further, pointing to antagonism between the nation’s two largest political parties, as well as the conflicts between the DPJ-led national government and local governments.

Meanwhile, the recent political confrontation has raised concerns in the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), which seeks realization of the suffrage bill.

The Chiba Prefectural Assembly, which adopted the resolution supporting foreign suffrage in 1999, reversed its position in December last year.

“We cannot believe they overturned their own decision,” said an official at Mindan’s Chiba Prefecture branch. The branch, which has a close relationship with LDP lawmakers, had owed the prefecture’s previous decision to support the suffrage bill to the efforts of LDP members in the prefectural assembly.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Assembly, too, is one of the eight local assemblies that went from for to against suffrage. Mindan’s Ibaraki branch has also expressed its disappointment, saying: “Assembly members are using the issue as part of their campaign strategy for the coming election.”

According to the National Diet Library, foreign residents are granted local suffrage in most major developed countries.

The PNP has also declared strong objection to the bill, saying “It could stimulate ethnic sentiment in the wrong way.”

PNP leader and Minister of State for Financial Services Shizuka Kamei stressed his strong opposition against the measure, saying his party would not allow the enactment of the suffrage bill.

Moreover, the DPJ itself seems to be split over the issue. Although the foreign suffrage bill is an “important bill” that DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa has been promoting, a forceful submission of the bill could cause a rift within the party, and the discussion over the matter has stalled.

“Considering the future relationship between Japan and South Korea, we should clarify the government’s policy,” said Ozawa, who showed strong enthusiasm for the realization of the suffrage bill during his meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul last December. Hatoyama agreed.

Ozawa apparently aims to pass the bill before this summer’s House of Councillors election in a bit to win Mindan’s support for the DPJ.

DPJ executives had agreed to submit the proposal as a Cabinet bill, not as a lawmaker-initiated legislation, during a meeting on Jan. 11.

However, Cabinet members were slow to react to Ozawa’s move, with Haraguchi insisting the legislation be led by lawmakers, saying: “The legislation is related to the foundations of democracy, and it’s questionable whether the Cabinet should take the initiative in this.” One DPJ senior member said: “If we promote the bill forcibly, it will cause a split in the party.”

“Consensus within the ruling coalition is a minimum requirement for realizing the legislation. It’s not an easy task,” said Hatoyama on Saturday.

After all, the government was forced to abandon submitting a foreign suffrage bill to the ongoing Diet session.

(Mainichi Japan) February 27, 2010


外国人地方選挙権:法案先送り 反対の国民新に配慮--政府方針
毎日新聞 2010年2月27日 東京朝刊





国民新:「保守」強調 夫婦別姓、外国人選挙権に「反対」
毎日新聞 2010年2月25日






9 comments on “DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.

  • jjobseeker says:

    “Kamei the Hutt”

    That is great. Permanent moniker for him from now on in my home!
    He’s just another crusty old man who needs to go; he may be in a new party, but his heart and soul is still LDP for sure.

  • Very disappointing. I m definitely not going to pay my city tax on time now, and I m going to get non Japanese halth insurance.

    No taxation without representation.

  • BTW, did you hear yesterday what Toru Hashimoto said about Chosen schools? That since North Korea and yakuza are one, Chosen schools which are involved with North Korea are also connected with boryoku-dan(yakuza)(!?)
    Maybe the guys from PNP are afraid to allow involvement of pro-North Korean and Chinese organizations in the political life of Japan?Who knows…

    — I saw it too on the TV news. But give us a link anyway, please.

  • why oh why is the DPJ in alliance with Kamei and the New People’s Party? Its a tiny far right party; once again this group of people is dictating national policy to the Japanese.They make Koizumi look liberal.
    From Wikipedia:
    “Most of the members of the Kokumin Shinto were formerly members of the Shisuikai (also known as Kamei Faction) of the LDP. Their strong links to the postal lobby forced them to go against Koizumi’s plans to privatise the postal system.

    It gets better:
    “In June 2007, party head Shizuka Kamei announced that Alberto Fujimori would be running for a seat in the House of Councillors under the banner of the People’s New Party. At the time of the initial announcement, Fujimori was under house arrest in Chile pending the outcome of an extradition hearing to decide whether he would be returned to Peru to face charges of corruption and human rights violations there.”

    If the price of deposing the LDP is to have these neo-Nazis in the government, I d say its time for a new election.

  • Here you are. Only the article is in Japanese:

    朝日新聞 2010年3月3日18時18分




  • Regarding N. Korea and Yakuza,
    Mitsuhiro Suganuma, formerly of the Japan’s Public Security Investigation Agency, mentioned to the foreign correspondents club in 2006 that 30% of the Yakuza is Korean.
    (google “Mitsuhiro Suganuma” for many quotes of that speech)
    This is probably where Governor Hashimoto is getting his information on the connection.
    I guess this is kinda off topic, though….


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