• Kyodo

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The city of Takahama, Aichi Prefecture, approved on Monday an ordinance to expand voting rights in plebiscites by lowering the voting age and allowing foreign permanent residents and prison inmates to vote.

The revised ordinance, to be enforced Sept. 1, is the first municipal bylaw in Japan to lower the voting age to 18 in local plebiscites, according to the city.

It said it expects more residents to become involved in the decision-making process with the lowering of the voting age, which was 20 in accordance with the Public Offices Election Law.

Under the revised ordinance, the right to vote in plebiscites is given to both Japanese and foreign permanent residents who are 18 and older and have lived in the city for more than three months.

Registered city residents who are in prison, and those who are away from the city for a long time due to business or hospitalization, are allowed to vote via mail, according to the law.

The city said the revision will allow an additional 1,200 residents to vote.

“Voting rights are given to those who are 18 and over in most advanced countries,” Takahama Mayor Sadayuki Mori said.

The original ordinance took effect in April 2001 and allows residents to call a plebiscite at any time without approval by the assembly if certain conditions are met.

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