Kawasaki opens referendums to foreign residents

The Kawasaki Municipal Assembly enacted an ordinance Thursday allowing residents aged 18 or older, including foreigners who have lived in the city for three years or longer, to vote in referendums.

Kawasaki is taking a cue from Hiroshima, the first city to adopt a similar ordinance, Kawasaki officials said.

Referendums can be put forth by the mayor, the assembly or residents for “important matters concerning the municipal governance,” the ordinance says.

Foreigners aged 18 or older who are legally registered as Kawasaki residents for three years or longer are given the right to vote regardless of their nationality or their visa status.

As of the end of March, Kawasaki had around 1.122 million residents aged 18 or older. Of them, around 19,000 were foreigners.