2010 bill eyed to give foreigners local-level vote

The government might draft legislation next year to give permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local-level elections, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Thursday.

“We are not yet in a situation where a bill has been prepared, and therefore it would be fairly difficult in the next Diet session,” Hatoyama told reporters Thursday, referring to the extraordinary session slated to open Monday. But submitting such a bill could be “an issue in the near future,” he said.

Permanent foreign residents, including ethnic Koreans who have grown roots here since the war, aren’t allowed to vote in local elections, much less national ones, despite lobbying for the right on the grounds that they pay taxes just like Japanese.

Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), one of the DPJ’s two junior coalition partners, has opposed giving foreign residents voting rights in local elections.