Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
The Daily Yomiuri editorial for Friday, February 27, 2004 "Foreign residents should not get the vote," reasons that "Foreign residents should never be given the right to vote in national election or in local polls. This conclusion is easy to reach if we look at non-Japanese from a constitutional point of view."
I suppose from a constitutional point of view it can also be argued that foreign residents should be denied medical treatment, police protection, and even directions. But I want to suggest looking at the issue from the perspective of an economic point of view. Like most foreign residents, I pay my taxes here. I pay health insurance and life insurance. I pay a lot: my share of the burden of supporting this society. It means that everyone who receives a public salary, public benefits or a public allowance is my employee and I am their employer: police; public school teachers; public librarians; doctors and nurses; garbagemen; even the Prime Minister and the Emperor are my employees.
I suggest that if you take my money then you oblige yourself to me and are accountable to me to an extent that we never hear Japanese public officials admit. In a democracy, accountability of public officials ought to be measured by the ballot box. I do not expect to be given the right to vote in Japan. That notion is just too progressive for Japanese ever to come to grips with. If I truly wanted to vote here I am certainly eligible to become a naturalized citizen. But let's admit it. Japan is hostile to outsiders, and there is very little benefit in becoming a naturalized citizen. It would not change my status here. I would just be a naturalized outsider.