Tokyo suburb to grant voting rights to foreign residents

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Foreign residents of the city of Musashino, a western suburb of Tokyo, must be granted the same rights as Japanese people to vote on local political matters under a proposed referendum ordinance.

Granting foreign residents a greater voice in local affairs is Mayor Reiko Matsushita’s original idea.

The draft ordinance that Matsushita promised at a November 12 press conference to submit to the Musashino city assembly would also cover students and technical trainees as long as they have resided in Musashino for at least three months.

The assembly is scheduled to meet on November 19 to consider the proposal.

Matsushita noted that the city‘s The foreign community had not been excluded from other citizen participation events, including those aimed at surveying local residents on various issues.

Of the city’s total population of around 148,000, around 3,000 were foreign residents as of November 1.

“There is no reason to distinguish between residents on the basis of their citizenship when it comes to the local referendum system,” Matsushita said.

Many renowned scientists and scholars have made Musashino their home, including Shinichiro Tomonaga, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.

While 40 municipalities in Japan have local referendum ordinances that allow foreign residents to participate, Musashino municipal government officials said it was unusual not to impose conditions on the lifespan of foreign residents in the community. and allow them to vote in the same way as the Japanese. .

The proposal would give residents aged 18 and over who have resided in the city for at least three months the right to vote in a local referendum. This same right will also be extended to foreign nationals.

If the proposal passes the municipal assembly as expected, the local referendum system could start from the next fiscal year.

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