Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary general of New Komeito and a strong advocate of a controversial bill to grant suffrage to ethnic minorities, on Friday urged Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori to start deliberations on the bill after the fiscal 2001 budget clears the Diet.

Fuyushiba urged Mori, who is also the Liberal Democratic Party president, to consider allowing party members to vote with their conscience on the bill, which was carried over from the previous Diet session due to strong opposition from within the LDP.

Mori said he will tackle the issue that has “weighed heavily on him” since the proposed legislation, which would grant non-Japanese residents the right to vote at local elections, is included in an agreement signed by the two parties when they formed a coalition in October 1999.

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