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News Koike’s party not granting foreigners right to vote

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thomas

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The right to vote in local elections, that is. Not that I’d ever seriously expected such right to be granted, but categorically denying it out of “national interest” (read below) wiped out the last sympathies I’d harboured for her.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/06/national/politics-diplomacy/tokyo-gov-yuriko-koike-defends-partys-policy-not-granting-foreign-residents-japan-right-vote/

If we give foreign residents the right to vote and run in local elections, we need to consider what may happen in those small, thinly populated islands, where people with a certain motive may be able to wield significant power,” Koike told a news conference in Tokyo.

“We need to approach the issue from the perspective of how to protect our nation,” she said.

The governor admitted certain issues were left unaddressed by Friday’s campaign pledges, and that she will consider whether any updates will be necessary in the future. Kibo no To states that it is ostensibly a “tolerant,” if conservative, party pushing for diversity in society.

Diversity is one of the key concepts that Koike has espoused since assuming the Tokyo governorship last year. It it not clear, however, whether her idea of diversity includes foreign residents. They are omitted on the website of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, where she states that she will empower women, men, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
 

nice gaijin

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damn. Party of selective hope, I suppose?
 

Mike Cash

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I have trouble understanding why anyone would support voting rights for non-citizens at any level.
 
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nice gaijin

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even if the votes were merely a formality and uncounted (as in, not counting towards the result, not untallied), identifying foreign residents as a real demographic and getting a gauge for how they feel about issues and elections would be a smart move for any government.
 

Julie.chan

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Non-citizens? I just looked this up, and non-citizens aren't allowed to vote in the U.S. either, it seems. I don't see why they should. It does seem like a dangerous proposition. If someone is a permanent resident and wishes to vote, they should become a citizen. If they can't, then that may be a problem with the path to citizenship, but trying to bandage such a problem by allowing non-citizens to vote is not a proper response in my opinion.
 
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thomas

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I honestly fail to see any danger in integrating foreign long-term residents into the municipal and local electoral system. They pay taxes, pay into health care, receive social benefits and welfare too. Having a say in who governs on a local level is just the next logical step and would result in a more efficient integration and representation.

This has been an ongoing debate in most European countries. Some of them - Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland and others IIRC - have implemented stipulations allowing foreign residents to vote.

Exhaustive info here:

Right of foreigners to vote - Wikipedia

And about Japan:

Currently the Constitution of Japan defines voting rights as only for citizens. In 1990, some permanent residents from Korea (see "Koreans in Japan") petitioned the Supreme Court to gain voting rights. The Supreme Court declined in 1995, but it also declared that it is not prohibited to do so. In addition, one of justices expressed the opinion that the foreigners should be guaranteed the voting right at local elections.

During the 2009 legislative elections campaign, it appeared that the New Komeito Party, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party were clearly in favor of extending local voting rights to foreign residents, while the Liberal Democratic Party was totally opposed to it and the Democratic Party of Japan was divided on this matter, but rather in favor of the extension of voting rights, so gaining the support of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) for many of its candidates. As of 2010, The Democratic Party was considering making a draft law to permit this.
What grinds my gears is that Koike felt compelled to raise this topic to appease the conservative electorate. Very cheap. Unfortunately, „Lost Hope” doesn’t seem to be a valid alternative to the LDP dinosaurs.
 
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In the US the right to vote belongs only to citizens. I agree with that policy. Non-citizens haven't taken the oath of citizenship, and their allegiance may be primarily to some other nation. With their allegiance in question, they should have no say in our government.
 
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thomas

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In the US the right to vote belongs only to citizens. I agree with that policy. Non-citizens haven't taken the oath of citizenship, and their allegiance may be primarily to some other nation. With their allegiance in question, they should have no say in our government.
This discussion relates to local and municipal, not national or general elections. In my view the participation in mayoral elections, town hall or council meetings or communal referenda does not necessitate any pledge of allegiance. Besides, although unrelated, I daresay that the concept of "allegiance to a nation" sounds quite abstract and outdated to most European (and probably Japanese) citizens.

Granting non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections isn't something alien to the US. Taken from the link in my last post:

More than 20 states and territories, including colonies before the Declaration of Independence, admitted foreigners' right to vote for all elections; the last one was Arkansas in 1926. Voting rights at the local level were later granted to non-citizens by a few town governments, either for school boards (New York until the board members were no longer elected in 2002, Chicago) or for municipal councils in small towns in Maryland (Barnesville (already since 1918), Martin's Additions and Somerset (since 1976), Takoma Park (since 1991) and Garrett Park (since 1999), Chevy Chase Section 3 and Chevy Chase Section 5). No foreigner was allowed vote at the national or state level in the US as of 2014.
 

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This discussion relates to local and municipal, not national or general elections.
I'm not sure if I would know what dictates local and municipal in Japan as compared to national or general elections. Would local and municipal include regional votes for example? In the United States governors have quite a bit of power within their state. I would assume the Japanese equivalent has similar powers. In your opinion should non-citizens in Japan be able to vote for these positions or would it be all non-governmental stuff like local school boards, judges, etc.?
 

thomas

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I'm not sure if I would know what dictates local and municipal in Japan as compared to national or general elections. Would local and municipal include regional votes for example? In the United States governors have quite a bit of power within their state. I would assume the Japanese equivalent has similar powers. In your opinion should non-citizens in Japan be able to vote for these positions or would it be all non-governmental stuff like local school boards, judges, etc.?
Ideally, it would involve both active and passive electoral rights: the right to participate in an election as a voter and the right to stand as a candidate for election, but I guess the right to vote would be a good start. Also, I was thinking of municipal elections: mayoral, city councils, etc. I see no reason why active electoral rights couldn't be extended to regional (prefectural) elections as well.
 

Julie.chan

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Granting non-citizens the right to vote in municipal elections isn't something alien to the US.
That's true, but the U.S. moved in the opposite direction from what you're suggesting.

In my view the participation in mayoral elections, town hall or council meetings or communal referenda does not necessitate any pledge of allegiance.
Local elections have real effects, too. They're not just for show.

I don't know much about Japan's politics, but I do know that in the U.S., career politicians usually start in local elections and then advance to higher levels. You can have quite a lot of influence on politics in the next decade or two in this way just by voting for people you want to see in Congress in local elections, and it also helps that very few other people vote in them, so your vote counts for much more. If Japanese politicians advance in any similar way, then opening the door for foreigners to vote would make it quite possible for foreign countries with an agenda heavily influence the political future of the country. I don't know if anyone would have any interest in doing that, but it just seems to me like a can of worms that shouldn't be opened unless it's absolutely necessary. And if it's already opened (as it was in the U.S.), the goal should be to close it.
 

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Ideally, it would involve both active and passive electoral rights: the right to participate in an election as a voter and the right to stand as a candidate for election, but I guess the right to vote would be a good start. Also, I was thinking of municipal elections: mayoral, city councils, etc. I see no reason why active electoral rights couldn't be extended to regional (prefectural) elections as well.
What would you think should be a requirement to vote for non-citizen foreign residents? I found the requirements to apply for naturalization. Would you think similar requirements for voting would be ideal or more/less harsh requirements? Japanese Citizenship - Immigration Attorney: Visas,Permanent Residence and Citizenship.入管、永住・帰化申請
 

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What would you think should be a requirement to vote for non-citizen foreign residents? I found the requirements to apply for naturalization. Would you think similar requirements for voting would be ideal or more/less harsh requirements?
The naturalization requirements taken from the link you posted:

  1. Continued residence in Japan: the applicant must have lived in Japan for more than 5 years.
  2. Must be over 20 years old
  3. Be of good moral character
  4. Financial stability: you or your spouse must be financially independent.
  5. Agree to hold only Japanese citizenship: you would lose your own nationality once you gain Japanese citizenship.
  6. Respect the Japanese Constitution: not involved in political violence against Japanese government

I guess 1 (permanent residence), 2, 3 (no criminal record in Japan), and perhaps 6 (formal pledge) should be minimum requirements to participate in local elections.

Below are the requirements in a few selected countries where foreign citizens have the right to vote:
  • Slovenia: On May 29, 2002, the Slovenian Parliament passed amendments to the Law on Local Elections which gave voting rights in local elections to all foreigners with a permanent residence in Slovenia. In addition to electing local council representatives and mayors, foreigners with a permanent residence are also enabled to run for the position of local councillor.
  • Ireland, Netherlands: Non-EU citizens may vote at local elections; only requirements: you must be over 18 years of age and you must live in the local electoral area.
  • Hongkong: foreigners with permanent residence status
  • Namibia: residence in the country for at least 4 years prior to the date of registration as elector
 

PatrickNZ

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Unfortunately you missed the real irony:
"we need to consider what may happen in those small, thinly populated islands, where people with a certain motive may be able to wield significant power"

That applies to Japanese citizens wielding significant power in small populations too.
 

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I guess 1 (permanent residence), 2, 3 (no criminal record in Japan), and perhaps 6 (formal pledge) should be minimum requirements to participate in local elections.

Below are the requirements in a few selected countries where foreign citizens have the right to vote:
  • Slovenia: On May 29, 2002, the Slovenian Parliament passed amendments to the Law on Local Elections which gave voting rights in local elections to all foreigners with a permanent residence in Slovenia. In addition to electing local council representatives and mayors, foreigners with a permanent residence are also enabled to run for the position of local councillor.
  • Ireland, Netherlands: Non-EU citizens may vote at local elections; only requirements: you must be over 18 years of age and you must live in the local electoral area.
  • Hongkong: foreigners with permanent residence status
  • Namibia: residence in the country for at least 4 years prior to the date of registration as elector
These certainly seem like they would be reasonable requirements within their respected regions. In the United States mostly we don't want non-citizens voting because I think they take up a larger portion of our population that most regions. I think it would be difficult for my country to set up standards without being discriminatory to at least some voters or without greatly changing local and national results. I think Japan has far less to lose and far more to gain from letting foreign residents vote. In my opinion though it would be mostly symbolic for any person that would support such a thing.
 

HanSolo

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Let's zoom out and ask "who cares?". You're kidding yourself that it gives you any power, any influence, even if they did adopt the morally dubious position that "non citizens can alter domestic governance". You get a less than one-in-one-million vote to alter whether "politician X" or "politician Y" gets into power. And you get it once every 4 years or so. You have no ability to affect what power he has, or to force him to fulfill his promises.

Why do you think the rich donate heavily to and lobby both sides of politics? It's not because you're the ones in control because you can tick a box on a piece of paper.

The biggest trick they every played was convincing you that this should be important to you.

The actual big issue is devolution of power from the national government to the prefectures & cities. Why is devolution of real importance? Because you can vote with your feet, whenever you want, with dozens of choices. No voting for two people who are slightly different, with next-to-no actual voting power, to replace the head of a bureaucratic machine, and only once every 4 years. Instead: you now have the power to completely change the laws you live under, within minutes, by getting in your car and driving over a border.
 

OoTmaster

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Instead: you now have the power to completely change the laws you live under, within minutes, by getting in your car and driving over a border.
Ah yes the border nations of The Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. I heard living conditions are great there.
 

OoTmaster

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Well if your reply had been more precise on which nation you were criticizing it could have been an insightful response. Since the thread itself is about foreign national's rights to vote in Japan I can only assume you were referring to Japan unless you clarify otherwise or respond directly to a comment about another nation.
 

HanSolo

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Yes, and the borders I was referring to, as you can see from the context, were those of prefectures and cities.
 

OoTmaster

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Well I probably missed that context then. Nothing like skipping over important content to make a snarky joke the the expense of others. It's one of my greatest assets. Sometimes one that skips over context only ends up making a fool of themselves. I've got no problem being the focus of blame when I clearly am the one at fault. I apologize for misconstruing context to make a snarky remark.
 

PatrickNZ

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"You get a less than one-in-one-million "
Actually no, the influence is much higher in the cases the politicians are thinking about. There are many local body areas (and they were talking local voting rights, not even considering national) where the number of voters is only a few hundred. Vocal minorities often drown out the quieter majorities, and the effects can be quite damaging.
 
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