Article 1 of the Constitution makes it clear that sovereign power resides with the people, and Article 15 says, "The people have the inalienable right to choose their public officials and to dismiss them." Thus the right to vote in elections is the most important constitutional right for Japanese citizens.

In this connection, the Supreme Court on Sept. 14 made a long-overdue decision when it found that a provision of the Public Offices Election Law -- which prevents qualified Japanese voters living abroad from voting for local candidates in Diet elections -- is unconstitutional.

The ruling is confirmation that, beginning with the next Diet election, voters living abroad may cast their ballots for individual candidates in local constituencies as well as for political parties in proportional-representation constituencies. An Upper House election is scheduled to be held in the summer of 2007, so the Diet must revise the Public Offices Election Law as soon as possible.