• Kyodo

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The Kagawa prefectural assembly on Tuesday adopted a resolution against a bill tabled in the Diet granting permanent foreign residents of Japan the right to vote in local elections.

It was the first such move at the prefectural assembly level. Two cities — Arao in Kumamoto Prefecture and Kushiro in Hokkaido — as well as the town of Imakane, Hokkaido, have adopted similar resolutions against the bill, according to the Home Affairs Ministry.

The statement was proposed by Liberal Democratic Party members and adopted despite opposition from the Democratic Party of Japan, New Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

It calls on the central government not to enact the bill on the grounds that Article 15 of the Japanese Constitution does not apply to foreign residents, and that granting them the right to vote in local elections would be unconstitutional, the assembly members said.

Article 15 states, “The people have the inalienable right to choose their public officials and to dismiss them.”

Granting voting rights to permanent residents should be sought by obtaining Japanese nationality based on the Family Registration Law, according to the resolution.

Diet proceedings on the suffrage bill, submitted earlier this year to the Diet by New Komeito and the New Conservative Party, have made little progress amid strong opposition from a number of LDP members.

In February 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that granting local voting rights to ethnic minorities through legal revisions is not prohibited by the Constitution.

More than 1,000 local assemblies have since adopted resolutions or recommendations calling for granting local-election voting rights to permanent residents.

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