We are reading much news about the Hatoyama administration considering giving permanent residents voting rights at the local level. As a permanent resident since 1984 and now a “senior citizen,” the news doesn’t excite me at all.
What’s the point of the right to vote? It would be a laugh if I went to a city office to ask for a job, claiming to be a legitimate voter. My wife is Japanese and all three of our children chose to be Japanese also. I preferred to keep my national identity.
In 1973, when I first landed in Japan, a Japanese wife was not an advantage. I was told “take your wife to your own country,” since legally the husband was the family head. My life here was hard fought. I considered myself blessed to break the ice of Japan’s business world. I’m sure many early arrivals have a similar story. After a long struggle, we foreigners “won” a new package of supposedly beneficial laws. What we got was the opposite: Now every time I land in an airport of “beautiful Japan” after a business trip, I am fingerprinted and photographed like a criminal — as if it was my first visit.
I have to sign an additional affidavit that I’m not carrying narcotics, guns or black money. It is so shameful to see Japanese people of my children’s or grandchildren’s age in the next lane walking out without paperwork. If I travel with my family, I have to be separated from them as if I had plague.
After living in this country for 37 years, I am still deprived of basic living rights. So, who needs a voting right in such a racial and biased environment? I need to be treated at ports of entry the same way as my family members. At the moment, this would be enough for me as a foreigner and I would appreciate it.