New Komeito will submit a bill to the Diet to give permanent foreign residents suffrage in local elections, even if it fails to secure collective support from the Liberal Democratic Party, a party executive said Thursday.
New Komeito Secretary General Tetsuzo Fuyushiba explained his party’s intentions to the secretaries general of the other ruling coalition parties — the LDP and the Liberal Party — during a meeting at the Diet.
Liberal Party Secretary General Hirohisa Fujii agreed to jointly submit the bill with New Komeito, according to Fuyushiba.
Some conservative LDP members are still reluctant to agree to the bill, although the three parties reached a basic agreement to make it law before they formed the three-way coalition.
New Komeito wants to submit the suffrage bill to a special Lower House committee on election system reforms, along with another one that will cut Lower House seats by 20, Fuyushiba said.
“We won’t wait for the LDP,” he said. “It will be OK if they support the bill after it is submitted.”
Fuyushiba suggested to the LDP that if it is difficult to reach a consensus, party members should be allowed to vote on their own, without an obligation to abide by a collective party decision, he said.
Meanwhile, the coalition bloc met severe criticism from the opposition camp on Thursday over its compromise for reducing Lower House seats.
The ruling parties’ proposal to cut 20 proportional representation seats from the Lower House, which was officially presented to the opposition bloc at a meeting of secretaries general of six parties for the first time, revolted opposition leaders.
“It’s tyranny by numbers,” said Hajime Ishii, vice president of the Democratic Party of Japan, largest opposition force. Ishii was referring to the unprecedented size of the tripartite coalition, which owns 72 percent of the 500 Lower House seats.
Meanwhile, Sadao Fuchigami, secretary general of the Social Democratic Party, asserted that the proposed seat-cut plan represents the coalition’s “no principle, no philosophy” nature.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner Liberal Party gave up on their previous agreement to cut 50 Lower House proportional seats as part of an effort to pull New Komeito into the coalition government a month ago.
New Komeito, a party that enjoys backing by various Buddhist groups, depends on the proportional representation system for several of its seats.
Asked why his party dropped its previous pledge, Liberal Party secretary general Hirohisa Fujii maintained that his party intended to avoid a “sudden change” in the election system.
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