The Nabari Municipal Assembly in Mie Prefecture adopted an ordinance Wednesday that will grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in a local plebiscite over a municipal merger.
Under the ordinance, foreign permanent residents aged 20 or older who have lived in the city for more than three months will be allowed to vote in the plebiscite, which the city plans to hold in February.
As of Oct. 15, 202 foreigners — including South Koreans and Brazilians — were eligible to vote in the plebiscite, according to city officials.
“With the understanding that foreign permanent residents contribute equally to the building of Nabari (as Japanese residents), I am overjoyed that we can participate (in the vote) under the same conditions,” said Kang Sung Hui, head of the Mie prefectural headquarters of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan).
“I am looking forward to the spread (of similar moves) to other local authorities in Mie Prefecture,” Kang said.
Under the new ordinance, Nabari residents will vote on whether they support or oppose a proposed merger with six neighboring cities, towns and villages in the upcoming plebiscite.
Thus far, foreign permanent residents in Maihara, Shiga Prefecture, and Iwaki, Akita Prefecture, have been granted voting rights in similar municipal merger plebiscites.