Fourteen of the nation’s 47 prefectural assemblies oppose or have called for prudence in granting permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections, a recent survey by the National Association of Chairpersons of Prefectural Assemblies has found.
Of the 14, eight including Chiba and Ishikawa had previously voted in favor of enfranchising non-Japanese with permanent resident status.
Observers point out that the move represents a revolt by conservatives that control many local assemblies, as legislation granting foreign residents the right to vote grows ever more likely under the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration.
Muneyuki Shindo, professor of political science at Chiba University, suspects that the LDP headquarters have asked affiliated assembly members to oppose any legislation granting permanent foreign residents the right to vote in a bid to cause a split within the DPJ-led administration.
“LDP members and those supporting the LDP are dominant in many local assemblies. I suspect that the LDP headquarters is creating a trend in which many of the local assemblies are opposed to the move and trying to cause a split within the administration,” he said.
Among municipal assemblies, at least 13, including the Yamagata Prefecture city of Tendo, had adopted resolutions against giving permanent foreign residents in Japan the right to vote in local elections by the end of last year, according to a survey by the National Association of Chairpersons of City Councils.
On the other hand, the Koganei Municipal Assembly in western Tokyo voted in December in favor of voting rights for non-Japanese with permanent resident status. Only four of its 24 members are affiliated with the LDP.