Tokyo’s Musashino rejects proposal to let foreign residents vote

The Musashino municipal assembly in Tokyo on Tuesday rejected a proposed ordinance that would have allowed foreign residents to vote in local referendums.

When first submitted, the proposal divided opinions within the suburban town’s assembly of nearly 150,000 residents. It has also drawn criticism online, with critics saying it could be a step towards granting foreign residents the right to vote in national elections.

The city, home to the popular shopping and residential district of Kichijoji, failed to join two cities that granted foreign nationals the right to vote in referendums without special conditions – Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture and Toyonaka in Osaka prefecture.

The proposal was rejected by 14 votes to 11.

After the assembly vote on Tuesday, Musashino Mayor Reiko Matsushita said there was insufficient dissemination of information about the proposal to townspeople, adding that she would listen to citizens’ voices and consider submitting a revised proposal in the future.

The city assembly’s general affairs committee gave the green light to the controversial proposal last week.

Matsushita submitted the proposal to the assembly in November to hold referendums that would have allowed foreign nationals aged 18 or over to vote if they had lived in the city for at least three months – the same conditions that would apply to Japanese residents.

“I aim to create a city that accepts diversity,” Matsushita said during committee deliberations last week. “Those who have just arrived in Japan are also part of the community. “

Assembly members with ties to the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan supported the proposal, while associate members of the Liberal Democratic Party opposed it, with one arguing the plan had been decided. hastily.

“The explanations to the citizens were insufficient,” said the PLD assembly member.

Besides the cities of Zushi and Toyonaka, about 40 municipalities in Japan allow foreign nationals to vote in referendums, but under certain conditions, such as permanent resident status.

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