A senior official of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun) on Friday said he opposes a legislative plan to grant limited voting rights to permanent foreign residents, describing the rights as foreigners’ interference in Japanese domestic affairs.

Chongryun, which resists assimilating ethnic Koreans into Japanese society, opposes the suffrage plan, as does Pyongyang.

Kim Myong Su, Chongryun’s international department head, said: “Voting rights are something inherited by the citizens of a country. If we, who come under the jurisdiction and norms of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, are given the rights, it would amount to interference in (Japan’s) domestic affairs.”

Kim was speaking at a meeting of a group of ruling Liberal Democratic Party legislators who oppose giving foreigners such rights.

Kim urged Japan instead to prioritize proceeding with bilateral negotiations to normalize diplomatic ties between Japan and North Korea, saying it is wrong to grant Korean residents’ voting rights when the two countries have no diplomatic ties.

The pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), as well as Seoul itself, is a strong advocate of the legislation.

A bill on granting permanent foreign residents voting rights in local elections has been submitted to the Diet, but some LDP members are strongly opposed to it. Among the 630,000 permanent foreign residents of Japan, some 600,000 are Koreans, including those brought to Japan as forced laborers during Japan’s 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

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