Ozawa Positive About Granting Local Voting Rights to Non-Japanese

Kyodo News, September 22, 2009

Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa says he will try to take the issue of giving foreigners local voting rights to next year’s regular Diet session.

In a meeting with South Korean lawmaker Lee Sang Deuk in Tokyo on Saturday, Ozawa told Lee he favors granting local suffrage to permanent residents of Japan, including South Koreans, participants said.

“I want it to take form somehow during the regular Diet session,” Ozawa was quoted as saying, suggesting he intends to compile the opinions of DPJ members during the session.

DPJ Upper House member Yoshihiro Kawakami, who took part in the meeting, said he believes the DPJ-led government will submit a bill aimed at giving permanent foreign residents the right to vote in elections for local government heads and assembly members during that Diet session.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who doubles as DPJ president, said in August before his party defeated the Liberal Democratic Party that while there are arguments for and against the idea within the DPJ, the time has come to consider it in a positive light.

But bringing it to the Diet may not be easy because Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), one of two junior ruling coalition partners of the DPJ, has expressed its opposition, saying granting suffrage to non-Japanese could destabilize the nation.

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