Foreign suffrage bill bound for Diet

The Hatoyama government on Monday decided to submit to the ordinary Diet session that opens Jan. 18 a bill that would allow permanent foreign residents to vote in local elections.

If the divisive bill is submitted, New Komeito and the Japanese Communist Party, two opposition parties that have called for such voting rights, are expected to support it.

But opposition to the move remains strong among some lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan and within the People’s New Party, one of the DPJ’s coalition partners.

At a meeting Monday of government and DPJ leaders, DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa said the government, not the party, should submit a foreign suffrage bill in view of the importance of Japan-South Korea relations.

Nearly 50 percent of Japan’s permanent foreign residents are of Korean descent.