Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 July 2010
Granting foreign permanent residents the right to vote in local elections in Japan was one of the Clean Government Party (CGP)'s major policy priorities during its 11 years governing in coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). While the CGP proposed several bills that would have done this, none of those bills came close to passing. Why not? Conventional wisdom about Japanese conservatism suggests that the LDP would not support such a bill because the party is uniformly committed to the idea that Japan is a one-ethnicity country, and thus the party is hostile to proposals that would grant those without Japanese ethnicity a role in Japanese society. However, I argue that Japanese conservatives in general, and LDP politicians in particular, have major disagreements about the appropriate role of foreign residents in Japanese society. Moreover, I argue that LDP politicians did not support the CGP's proposal to grant foreign permanent residents the right to vote in local elections in Japan because this proposal did not appeal to politicians from either of the dominant conservative schools of thought about foreign residents in Japan.
1 I write Japanese names in the Japanese style, with the family name first.
2 Yomiuri Shimbun, 27 September 2009.
3 Shipper, Apichai W., Fighting for Foreigners: Immigration and its Impact on Japanese Democracy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008), p. 134Google Scholar.
4 Oguma Eiji has discussed the phrase tan'itsu minzoku shakai at length in Eiji, Oguma, A Genealogy of ‘Japanese’ Self-Images (Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, 2002)Google Scholar.
5 McKeown, Timothy J., ‘Case Studies and the Limits of the Quantitative Worldview’, in Brady, Henry E. and Collier, David (eds.), Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), p. 141Google Scholar, Table 9.1.
6 McKeown argues ‘If the investigator is searching empirical evidence to identify causal processes, terming this activity “identification” seems preferable. We can then reserve the term test for those situations where more than one substantive model has been developed and brought to bear, and there is a comparative assessment of the success of the models in explaining the outcomes of interest’ (ibid. p. 164).
9 Shipper, Fighting for Foreigners, p. 25.
11 Chan-Tiberghien, Jennifer, Gender and Human Rights Politics in Japan: Global Norms and Domestic Networks (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), pp. 125–26Google Scholar.
12 When Sakanaka was writing, Koreans were by far the largest foreign minority group in Japan. In 2008, Chinese became the largest foreign minority group. However, as will be discussed below, Koreans still make up the majority of foreign permanent residents in Japan.
13 Hidenori, Sakanaka, ‘Zainichi Chōsenjin No Taigū [The Treatment of Koreans in Japan]’, in Zainichi Kankoku/Chōsenjin Seisakuron No Tenkai [Expansion of a Policy Dialogue About Resident Koreans] (Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan Kabushiki Gaisha, 1999 ), p. 149Google Scholar.
14 Sakanaka, ‘Zainichi Chōsenjin’, p. 149.
19 In Sakanaka's more recent writing, he has moved away from a conservative take on immigration. In a recent blog post, Sakanaka argued that Japan should aggressively admit young immigrants both to address Japan's declining population and because Japan will not be able to succeed economically if Japanese people do not understand foreign cultures. This recent essay suggests that Japanese society would profit from a radical challenge to the idea that Japan is a tan'itsu minzoku shakai (i.e. aggressive admission of young immigrants), and that is not a conservative idea. Sakanaka Hidenori, ‘Imin no Sekkyokuteki na Ukeire ga Nihon no Keizai to Shakai wo Sasaeru’ (Aggressive Immigrant Admission Supports Japan's Economy and Society). From Sakanaka Hidenori's blog Sakanaka Channel, http://blog.livedoor.jp/jipi/archives/51263561.html. Accessed 25 May 2009.
20 Tei Taikin is the romanization of the Japanese pronunciation of his name. However, Tei is a naturalized Japanese citizen of Korean ethnicity, and the romanization of the Korean pronunciation of his name is Chung Daekyun.
21 Ministry of Justice, Immigration Control (Tokyo: Government of Japan, 2005), p. 31Google Scholar.
22 Taikin, Tei, ‘Naze Kika Ha Zainichi No Tabuu Natta No Ka [Why Has Naturalization Become a Taboo for Zainichi Koreans]?’, Chuo Koron: 6 (2008): 130Google Scholar.
26 Chung, Erin Aeran, Immigration and Citizenship in Japan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming), p. 205Google Scholar.
27 Akira Momochi, ‘Kaisei No Kokuseki Hō Ga Nihon Wo Yōkai Saseru [Reform of Citizenship Law Will Dissolve Japan]’, Seiron (2009), p. 123.
30 Hyodo, Nisohachi, ‘Imin Ukeire Ha Kyōki No Sata [Admission of Immigrants Is an Act of Madness]’, Seiron, 9 (438) (2009): 27Google Scholar.
32 Suga Yoshihide, House of Councilors (Japanese Diet), Budget Committee, 13 March 2007.
33 Chung, Immigration and Citizenship, p. 184, note 11.
34 House of Representatives, Special Committee for the Establishment of Political Ethics and the Reform of the Public Officials Election Law, 16 November 2004.
37 House of Councilors, Budget Committee, 13 March 2007.
38 House of Representatives, Public Hearing on Constitutional Revision, 18 November 2004.
39 House of Representatives, Plenary Session, 21 January 2008.
40 House of Representatives, Special Committee to Examine the Constitution, 16 March 2006.
41 House of Representatives, Constitution Research Committee, 2 February 2005.
42 House of Representatives, Special Committee for the Establishment of Political Ethics and the Reform of the Public Officials Election Law, 16 November 2004.
43 House of Councilors, Committee on the Declining Birthrate and an Aging Population, 6, April 2005 and House of Councilors, Budget Committee, 4 December 2006.
44 House of Councilors, Budget Committee, 13 March 2007.
45 House of Councilors, Committee on the Declining Birthrate and an Aging Population, 23 April 2008.
46 House of Councilors, Budget Committee, 13 March 2007.
47 House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee, 19 May 2006.
48 House of Representatives, Special Committee for the Establishment of Political Ethics and the Reform of the Public Officials Election Law, 16 November 2004.
49 House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee, 19 May 2006.
50 House of Councilors, Budget Committee, 13 March 2006.
51 House of Representatives, Plenary Session, 21 January 2008.
52 House of Councilors, Budget Committee, 13 March 2007.
53 House of Representatives, Special Committee for the Establishment of Political Ethics and the Reform of the Public Officials Election Law, 16 November 2004.
54 House of Councilors, Committee on the Declining Birthrate and an Aging Population, 6 April 2005.
55 In fairness, it might have been challenging for him to avoid acknowledging this, because this statement is drawn from a debate with DPJ MP Haku Shinkun, a naturalized citizen of Japan with Korean ethnicity.
56 Dal, Kim Yòng, Zainichi Chōsenjin No Kika [the Naturalization of Koreans in Japan] (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 1990), pp. 32–3Google Scholar.
57 Chung suggests that Japan and Switzerland are the only two industrialized democracies that require close inspection of the cultural assimilation of prospective citizens (Immigration and Citizenship, p. 178).
58 Katsumi, Satō, ‘Kikago No Shimei Ni Kansuru Asahi Shimbun No Gohō [the False Report by Asahi Shimbun Regarding Names after Naturalization]’, Chōsen Kenkyū, 234 (1993)Google Scholar.
59 Kim, Zainichi Chōsenjin, p. 49.
63 Yomiuri Shimbun, 16 February 2001; 1 March 2001.
65 Yomiuri Shimbun, 24 December 2000.
66 Yomiuri Shimbun, 8 June 2008.
67 House of Councilors, Finance Committee, 14 February 2001.
69 Samuels, Richard J., Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007)Google Scholar.
70 Yomiuri Shimbun, 8 June 2008.
72 Much of the senior leadership of the DPJ, including Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio, is in favor of granting foreign residents the right to vote in local elections. Sankei Shimbun, 8 October 2009.
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