Voting rights for foreign residents
Permanent foreign residents should be heard, too
Permanent residents are on the increase . . .
The decision to pull up stakes and relocate to another country is one that is not made quickly or lightly. It is a course of action that promises to affect home, family, business - literally every area of a person's life. In addition to the emotional trauma of leaving the comfort and security of familiar surroundings for (usually) totally unfamiliar ones, the consideration of the destination society's overall suitability is an equally high priority. Then, once transplanted, it is a long wait - and other qualifications must be met - before permanent-resident status can be obtained. Needless to say, it is a high price to pay for changing addresses.
Foreign nationals who have applied for and received permanent-resident status have obviously done so for a very good - and very simple - reason: they are going to stay in Japan for an extended period of time. Typically, their plan is to reside here for ten years, twenty years or even longer - perhaps for the rest of their lives. They intend to put down roots here and, as such, it stands to reason that they would have significantly more than just a casual curiosity in what is going on in their adopted community not only at the present time, but also well into the future. And, because more and more are making the decision to stay long-term, their need to be heard and included is rising along with their numbers.
Active and concerned 'citizens' . . .
Just like in their native homeland, the condition, circumstances and overall direction of the new locality (and the entire country, as well) has a direct bearing on the condition and quality of the foreign resident's life and the lives of his or her family members. Therefore - just like back home - they develop a 'vested interest' in the social, environmental and political climate around them. By necessity as much as desire, they evolve into concerned 'citizens.' It is indeed accurate to say that they become a very real part of the community as a whole.
Over the years, Japan's foreign residents have proven themselves to be unique and valuable assets, not only to the country's economic environment but to its social fabric, as well. Just as Japanese expats living elsewhere take with them new ideas and rich cultural diversity, international residents here breathe fresh and invigorating creativity into local and national Japanese society. Furthermore, statistics clearly show that the crime rate of foreign permanent residents here is even lower than that of the Japanese population at large.
The time has come . . .
In short, Japan's permanent residents have shown that they are law-abiding, responsible people, and they have a large stake in this country and what happens here. They have earned the right for their voices to be heard through local elections. Many lawmakers already favor this move, including the entire Komei Party and a number of high-level members of the DPJ - one of them being the Prime Minister himself. It's time to give Japan's permanent foreign residents the right to vote!
- The question answers itself really, not having a voice is clearly representative of socialism or dictatorial regimes. -Nathaniel, Manager [Niigata]
- We live here, pay taxes, support our Japanese government but can't vote ???? that makes no sense except the politicians might have to change their tone. -G.S.Z., Businesss Owner [Okinawa]
- The permanent residents are living here forever. Stop making them feel like tourists. Most of the permanent residents are parents of Japanese citizens. These people have a right to vote and have their voices heard. -Aly Rustom, Teacher [Saitama]
- If this is Local or Regional voting rights, ok. If it is for National voting rights, I do not agree as all countries that I know of do not permit non-citizens to vote in national elections. Marketing Manager [Tokyo]
- Voting in local elections might be a first step. Look at the EU, they have had very good experiences with it. -Frauke Arndt, NGO staffer [Kobe]
- In NZ, PRs have practically the same rights as cizitens, short of running for parliament or visiting Australia without a visa. My wife who holds PR can even vote in an national election if she visits the country within a 1 year period before hand (that's voting rights without even residing there!). As of yet, PR and naturalised citizens have not ruined NZ. -R.T., [Tokyo]