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News Musashino to grant voting rights to foreign residents

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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Perhaps a worthy reason for @bentenmusume to pop a good bottle of junmai daiginjō: foreign residents of the western Tokyo suburban city of Musashino are to be granted the same rights as Japanese to vote in local policy matters under the terms of a proposed ordinance on referendums. Although it is just a proposal, it's a step in the right direction. :)

Granting foreign residents a greater say in local affairs is the brainchild of Mayor Reiko Matsushita. The proposed ordinance that Matsushita vowed at a news conference Nov. 12 to submit to the Musashino municipal assembly would also cover students and technical intern trainees as long as they have resided in Musashino for at least three months. Matsushita noted that the city's foreign community had not been excluded from other citizen participation events, including those to sound out local residents on various issues. Of the city's total population of about 148,000, about 3,000 were foreign residents, as of Nov. 1. "There is no reason to distinguish between residents due to their citizenship with regard to the local referendum system," Matsushita said.

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This motion is getting closer to fruition: a committee of the Musashino city assembly has approved the ordinance that would allow foreign residents to vote in local referendums. The measure will be put to a plenary vote on 21 December.

Apart from Musashino, two other municipalities, Zushi in Kanagawa and Toyonaka in Osaka, allow foreign residents to vote in local referendums without any conditions. Forty municipalities have special requirements, such as a permanent residence.

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Rejoiced too soon.....

When first submitted, the proposal divided opinions in the assembly. It also drew flak online, with critics saying it could be a step toward granting foreign residents suffrage in national elections.


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