Granting Permanent Resident Aliens the Right to Vote in Local Government: The New Komeito Continues to Promote Alien Suffrage in Japan

By Hawks, Miles E. | Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Granting Permanent Resident Aliens the Right to Vote in Local Government: The New Komeito Continues to Promote Alien Suffrage in Japan


Hawks, Miles E., Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal


Abstract: Throughout the world, the dominant suffrage model has been voting rights based on citizenship. However, the trend of globalization, the increase of crossborder migration, and the advent of supranational institutions such as the European Union have prompted many countries to reconsider the relationship between nationality and voting rights. This has resulted in a growing trend, beginning in Europe and spreading most recently to South Korea, of adopting a notion of suffrage based on residency and community rather than citizenship. Japan is currently considering legislation, known as the "Local Suffrage Bill," which would allow permanent resident aliens ("PRAs") to vote in local elections. The Constitution of Japan grants the right to vote solely to Japanese nationals. However, Japan has an ever-increasing PRA population and a growing interest in alien suffrage. While there is opposition to the movement, the Japanese Supreme Court has held that granting suffrage to PRAs on a subnational level is constitutional. In 2004, the New Komeito, a member of Japan's ruling coalition, resubmitted its 2000 Local Suffrage Bill to the Diet. Passage of the bill would allow Japan's PRAs to more fully participate in Japanese society and would have an impact beyond simply following the global trend in alien suffrage. With Japan facing a looming social security crisis that necessitates a sustainable influx of foreign laborers, an alien suffrage bill could encourage long-term migration and help ensure Japan's continued economic success.

I. INTRODUCTION

In 1990, Kim Chong Gyu,1 a permanent resident alien2 ("PRA") living in Osaka, Japan, attempted to register to vote in a local election in the Kita Ward of the city.3 The Ward officials refused to accept his registration,4 noting that the Public Offices Election Law5 allows only Japanese citizens to vote. Mr. Kim, a so-called "Korean in Japan,"7 was born and raised in Japan. As he wrote, "[i]f the term 'holder of South Korean citizenship' is taken away, there are no differences in my living conditions from a 'holder of Japanese citizenship' and it would be alright to say we are of the same nature."8 Although Mr. Kim was an equal member of Japanese society in lifestyle, education, and ambition, he was unable to equally participate in the political processes directly affecting his life.

Because the Ward officials refused his registration, in November of 1990 Mr. Kim and ten other PRAs sued local election officials in the Osaka District Court.9 Following the Osaka District Court's dismissal of the suit in June of 1993,10 in 1995, the Japanese Supreme Court granted an appeal to Mr. Kim and a majority of his co-plaintiffs.11 The Supreme Court ultimately affirmed the lower court's ruling, agreeing with the Kita Ward officials' interpretation of the Public Offices Election Law.12 Also, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution of Japan13 only guarantees Japanese citizens the right to vote, excluding PRAs from its purview.14 The Supreme Court's opinion, however, contained two statements of consequence: 1) the Constitution does not prohibit establishing suffrage for PRAs in local elections; and 2) any such steps should be taken by the national legislature.15 This dicta arguably makes Kim v. Osaka, the most important case to the alien suffrage movement in Japan to date. Kim is the first and only case in which the Supreme Court intimated that granting voting rights, which have been traditionally regarded as the premier badge of citizenship, to aliens is constitutionally feasible.16 Since this decision, several local governments throughout Japan made special provisions to allow PRAs living within their boundaries some form of political participation.17 More importantly, the Diet, Japan's parliament, is currently considering the passage of a voting rights law known as the "Local Suffrage Bill."18

This Comment examines the constitutionality of the Local Suffrage Bill and advocates for its adoption, a move which would lead to an increase in PRAs' participation in Japanese society and to the development of Japan's future social security policy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Granting Permanent Resident Aliens the Right to Vote in Local Government: The New Komeito Continues to Promote Alien Suffrage in Japan
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.