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In the April 18 “Foreigner suffrage opponents rally,” Atsuyuki Sassa is quoted as saying: “Our Constitution grants those with Japanese nationality voting rights in return for their obligation to pay taxes. Granting suffrage to those without Japanese nationality is clearly a mistake in national policy.” It is unclear what kind of taxes Sassa is referring to — is it for example income tax or consumption tax? Either way, many foreign nationals work and pay income tax as well as other kinds of taxes in Japan and still do not have the right to vote. The argument is based on a logic that is clearly mistaken — many Japanese nationals have the right to vote even though they do not pay income tax, for example students and the unemployed. Paying taxes obviously has nothing to do with the matter.

The claim by the LDP’s No. 2 politician Tadamori Oshima about “protecting the nation’s sovereignty” rings equally hollow. Many countries grant foreign residents the right to vote in local elections without it being (mis-)understood as an infringement on national sovereignty. Foreign residents do not form a united force. There is no reason to believe that simply because they do not have Japanese passports their views differ fundamentally from those who do.

The issue is fundamentally one concerning basic human rights, especially of foreign nationals who were born in Japan and have Japanese as their mother tongue. These people have often lived in the country for all their lives having payed taxes throughout their working lives.

name withheld by request

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