Just 16% of prefectural and municipal assembly leaders in Japan believe there should be further debate on whether to grant foreign residents a vote in local referendums, results of a Kyodo News survey have shown, with many citing a need for care in approaching the issue.

Individuals without Japanese citizenship are not permitted to vote in elections, but local governments have the power to introduce ordinances allowing them a say in referendums.

But responses from the survey on forms of local participation for foreign residents, published Thursday, showed that 56% of assembly leaders polled feel that they "could not say either way," and another 24% stated that they "do not think it should be pursued further."