Haraguchi positive on foreigner voting rights

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi responded positively Thursday to the proposed granting of voting rights to foreign nationals with permanent residency in gubernatorial, mayoral and local assembly elections. 

“Some conclusion should be reached on the matter, and I want to seek a realistic response,” he said in an interview with news organizations.

A number of DPJ lawmakers are hesitant about granting local voting rights to foreigners. Opponents also include financial services minister Shizuka Kamei, head of Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), one of the DPJ’s coalition partners.

Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki is also cool on the idea.

In a 1995 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not forbid a law being passed to guarantee local voting rights to foreign residents.

The DPJ, New Komeito and the Japanese Communist Party have submitted such bills to the Diet a total of 12 times since 1998. However, the bills were scrapped due to opposition mainly from the long-ruling LDP, which was recently ousted from power.