DPJ exec eyes suffrage bill this term

The Democratic Party of Japan may submit a bill during the current extraordinary Diet session that would grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local-level elections, DPJ Diet affairs chief Kenji Yamaoka told reporters Friday, noting the session may also have to be extended.

His comments come a day after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama indicated submitting such a bill anytime soon would be difficult, indicating next year would be the earliest proposed legislation would appear.

Speaking after attending a meeting with Liberal Democratic Party Diet affairs chief Jiro Kawasaki, Yamaoka said he told his opposition counterpart the bill may be submitted as lawmaker-sponsored legislation and asked for cooperation from the conservative LDP, which has been against foreigner suffrage.

“Considering the various opinions that exist within (the DPJ), depending on the circumstances we could ask lawmakers to vote on an individual basis,” Yamaoka said.

Yamaoka also said the Diet session may have to be extended from its current Nov. 30 deadline to allow enough time to deliberate various legislation and treaties.

Hatoyama has been playing down the prospects for drafting the foreigner suffrage bill, saying a consensus has not been reached within the ruling coalition, let alone the general public, over the issue.