A Liberal Democratic Party panel said Friday it will hold a series of sessions to study a proposal to give permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections, party officials said. But the ruling coalition — the LDP, Liberal Party and New Komeito — is unlikely to submit a bill to this effect during the current Diet session, said Gen Nakatani, secretary general of the LDP’s Election System Research Council. The panel will look into 14 issues concerning the bill, including the possible effects on local elections and governments, foreign residents’ rights and foreigners’ obligations to their mother countries. The panel will also consider diplomatic relations with South Korea, judicial precedents of the Supreme Court and cases of foreign countries that grant similar voting rights to foreign residents, party officials said. The first meeting of the panel will be held by year’s end, Nakatani said. New Komeito has been pushing for adoption of the bill, while some conservative LDP members are reluctant to give local voting rights to foreigners without Japanese citizenship. The LDP, apparently in fear of revealing another policy rift within the coalition, has asked its partners to wait for the ruling party to form a consensus.
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