“Votes for Foreigners” Whips Up Storm of Xenophobia


A Democratic Party of Japan politician, Yukio Hatoyama, has created a storm of xenophobia after he suggested in a live NicoNico Douga broadcast that permanently resident foreigners should have the right to vote in local elections.

Opponents (including, it seems, the entirety of 2ch and Nico) immediately pounced on this as evidence of high treason and an unhealthy sympathy for the non-Japanese wretches who are apparently the source of so many evils in Japan.

His comment runs as follows:

“Permanently resident foreigners pay taxes, lay down roots, and really try to make it here. They should at least get the right to vote (in regional elections) … Japan doesn’t just belong to the Japanese.”

The response to this suggestion, Nico, 2ch and the Japanese Internet in general are aflame with xenophobic comments denouncing him as a traitor and carpetbagger.

Tens of thousands of comments on Nico and 2ch are almost unanimous in castigating him for even considering granting rights to non-Japanese.

In particular, his “Japan doesn’t just belong to the Japanese” remark has attracted particular scorn, with opponents ignoring its presumably intended meaning of “foreigners are part of Japan too”, in favour of a more sensational interpretation of “Japan belongs to the Koreans”.

The Democrats have been arguing for limited suffrage for permanent residents for some time, usually attracting criticism for so doing, so his comments are not unexpected.

The Democratic party is often criticised for being excessively concerned with the affairs of Zainichi Koreans (which is what is basically meant by “permanent residents” in this case, as they make up the majority of such residents and have frequently secured preferential treatment compared to other groups), and political opponents have wasted no time in denouncing them as traitors and a party of Korean sympathisers over this.

Permanent residence in Japan is very difficult to obtain, usually requiring marriage to a Japanese citizen and a decade or more of residence, although it has been granted en masse to Korean residents (who also have the option of fully becoming Japanese citizens in most cases). It carries no political suffrage of any kind.

Citizenship for foreigners is practically unheard of, and the process is extremely difficult and unappealing to most who were not actually born in Japan. Such citizens do receive full suffrage.

Internationally, most developed countries allow foreigners political representation in some manner, especially at a local level.

It may be generally restricted to citizens, but with relatively straightforward naturalisation (as in the US), or allowed at various levels to any “foreign” residents (as is the case reciprocally throughout the entire EU to other EU citizens).

Even neighbouring South Korea now allows permanent residents to vote, although the numbers who qualify are tiny.

The broader context is of course that Japan’s population growth is stagnant and its society aging, and mass immigration is seen as one of the only ways a collapse in the pension system and a substantial reduction in size of the Japanese economy can be avoided.

Plans for as many as ten million immigrants have been touted (by the rightist LDP), but if Japan is to assimilate such numbers it will need a modern system of attainable citizenship, with political representation, rather than one based on blood and birth, which seemingly keeps immigrants only on sufferance.

As evidenced by this response, most Japanese would rather not deal with such an issue.

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    Comment by SaruDa
    20:55 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Maybe before letting permanent residents vote, they should try to stomp out Burakumin discrimination.

    Avatar of Kinny Riddle
    Comment by Kinny Riddle
    00:57 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    What's wrong with letting good decent folk like Danny Choo vote?

    2ch may call itself the "biggest forum" in Japan, but it is seriously disproportionately right wing when it comes to no-brainer common sense issues like these.

    Judging from the polls, I really hope the Democratic Party wins the election in September and rub it in their bitter faces. That'll shut them up from thinking they're in the majority.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:05 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    LOL @ nicodouga... they're afraid that their pedophile ways (the majority of nico watchers anyway...) are about to be eroded once you give voting rights to the 1%

    NicoDouga... Not only it's a a lame attempt to copy youtube, but it's a business that doesn't return profits at all.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:37 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Those Elevens need to learn their place. ALL HAIL BRITANNIA!

    Comment by elc
    16:27 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    hahaha... to not promote immigration in Japan is going to lead to huge problems for them in the future, they wont have nearly enough working class people to provide for the dependents like seniors and kids, in the end, their entire economic system will collapse, then we shall see who doesnt want immigrants to help pay for welfare...

    btw, the Japanese population is DECREASING at an alarming rate, not enough Japanese people want to have kids at all...

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:18 15/09/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Also Germany, Russia (all eastern europe in fact), and now even Italia and Spain. Countries like USA, UK, France or Scandinavian countries are better but still weak in this matter actually.
    Birthrate is about to change the world :/, mass starvation or extreme power for populated countries (India in 2050... o.o), this what the future is.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    12:27 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Dirty elevens

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    17:52 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I admit I lol'd

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:59 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why the hell SHOULDN'T permanent residents be able to vote? I mean, it's the country they have chosen to now live in-- LEGALLY I might add --why should they not be able to guide local politics?

    Doesn't make any friggin sense.

    Comment by BuggyBY
    04:51 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Because Billy-Ray and Bobby-Stu in the trailer you see to your left dun' wan' no derty furrin bahstuds having any political influence in THEIR town.

    Avatar of metatron
    Comment by metatron
    16:57 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    wow. such rage

    Comment by holy
    04:24 23/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It is Chinese and South Korean that they watches.
    There are Chinese and a South Korean in the high rank of the foreigner with a lot of crimes in Japan.
    It is a burglar, and the homicide and the rape permanent resident are South Korea. There are a lot of China.
    I think that being watched is natural.
    It is South Korea and China of dangerous thought to make them participate in politics though it is.
    They have been taught anti-Japan since childhood, and it is excessive.
    「Kill the Japanese. Japan sinks it in the sea. 」Even the people who come to Japan to work say the same thing to these.
    Word that pours "Japan is a bad country" this on the Japanese like the brainwash.
    With this, even if it is possible to dislike it, it might be natural.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:57 24/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Uh-huh.......if that is even the case, why the hell would they still be living in Japan, if they hated Japan and it's population.(Barring all "I don't fit in!" arguments.) Surely these Japan hating Chinese and Koreans would be glad to be repatriated back to their home coun...Oh wait.

    Point is if they are living there after all this time, paid taxes, lived like a regular citizen, and contribute to society, they obviously give a flying fuck about Japan. I see no legitimate reason why they cannot vote in a meaningless local election.

    Get over your holier than thou ideals and stop basing the whole over the actions of the few.

    Comment by J
    01:32 27/08/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Learn how to speak English first then post here

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:42 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    DPJ's ambition is to make japan belong to client state of china.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:31 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    jeez i thought i accidently wandered into a news site or something. i just want to look at hentai and nekkid asian girls.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:28 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    ITT: Japanese are racist.

    Avatar of h8GWB
    Comment by H8gwb
    04:41 24/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Quick! Everyone schedule a trip to Japan so they may vote in their opinions!

    Wait, I completely misunderstood the article.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:26 22/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Smart man with a democratic thinking.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:49 30/12/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There is a reason why Japanese people would be perceived as xenophobic (if not racist), just read the relevant Wikipedia article thoroughly:
    And from here, some 2ch comments reinforce the WP article.

    Majority of the anime isn't being broadcast at all outside Japan. And the number of the remaining minority depends on which country you're talking about.

    So indeed, this is about the *only* way to watch the *majority* of anime. A few titles being broadcast are a long way behind of Japan, and some people like Japanese seiyus better. These are good motives for fansubbing.

    I'm pretty certain that if there is an opportunity, a lot of people would love to buy the DVDs and whatnot (I personally do, at least) to support the producers.

    As a personal note, I think the "newly" introduced (when one considers the history of intellectual mankind concept of intellectual property is crap, but I love anime, and I want to support people who make them. In a sense, I see it as a donation.

    Avatar of Daiyousei
    Comment by Daiyousei
    20:07 01/11/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wow. Someone reasonable.

    Avatar of Charkan
    Comment by Charkan
    02:21 22/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    From what I know Brazil and Japan has good relations at the immigration. One of the biggest Japanese colonies exist in Brazil.

    Dual citizenship is common here in Brazil. I hope to continue our good relations despite this wave of xenophobia that Japan has with neighboring countries.

    Comment by Tasunke
    03:09 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    How can be Japaneses so much politically retarded ?
    Here in Switzerland resident foreigners have the right to participate in the local political life and there is obviously no problems.

    Japan disappoint me.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:09 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    As the Anonymous Japanese has said, there exists a large number of Korean and Chinese who are potentially Anti-Japanese and living in Japan. Is there a large group of Anti-Swiss race living in Switzerland?

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:31 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Don't use the word race. That's stupid. Groups (influenced by its culture) can be against each other, while some individuals of that group may have a differing view. Use groups/ethnicity instead of "race".

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:37 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm sure there's some Switzerland hating people, just like there are similar people in other countries who hate the country that they're in, just like there's some JAPANESE people who live in and hate Japan, probably more of them in Japan than Korean residents in Japan who hate Japan.

    But c'mon, is all this fear of Korean residents in Japan really warranted? They've chosen to become Japanese citizens, so they're part of that country now, and it should be in their best interests to see that the country they live in does well, right? Maybe some of them are even Korea-haters who just want to live peaceful lives in their new country? I hear some of them are even people who escaped from North Korea. ESCAPED. It sounds more like the Japanese liken them to evil spies, brining down the "infidel" world from the inside, lol. There isn't even that many of them to make much of a difference if they vote.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:05 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Japanese would prefer to die out than taint the race. Go for it, you idiots.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:44 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm more interested in the part where he mentions the USA ("America"), and all Japanese starts to comment about the USA.

    Comment by but i still didn’t do it
    09:36 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wait I'm Japanese and live in America (for 15 years) and I don't have the right to vote.

    I don't understand how you can agree with this man when your own country doesn't allow foreigners to vote.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:34 23/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Compare. Which is easier? Becoming a citizen of Japan or America?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:20 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    1) make babies
    2) allow foreigners to become citizens

    Since number one is going to be a bit difficult for 2ch an nico types, number two is going to have to work...

    Comment by アノニモウス
    04:32 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    So, you are suggesting to import more Otakus? I fail to see how this is solving anything.

    I mean, who else is going to want to live in Japan anyway? Sure, you have the odd samurai/ninja fanboy but there can be only so much of them.
    The rest of the (presumably) intelligent world would rather stay the f*** off of that hell hole that is Japan.

    I'm not counting Koreans, since they are pretty much the same thing. Japanese, Korean, Chinese... they are all yellow and like dragons. What's the difference anyway?

    Oh yeah, in before that guy who I refuse to name somehow blames female emancipation for the Japanese population problems.

    Avatar of yaku
    Comment by yaku
    05:08 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The difference is made by Japanese, unfortunately.

    I agree it's all the same thing; chinese, korean, japanese... variations of the same crap and each of them have their head stuck up their arse thinking they're better than the other.

    Comment by DolWolf
    22:52 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, in twenty years, France will be a muslim country and USA a spanish country. But I think McDonald will survive.

    Comment by アノニモウス
    18:42 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    You are taking my comment too seriously, yaku. I've long since given up on being serious on "teh internets".

    There are greater differences between the races than political correctness would allow us to admit when not behind the mask of Anonymous. For example, scientists have long since proved, that blacks (ok, Afro-Americans) are far more athletic than the rest of humanity. This comes as a result of the much more dangerous environment to which they adapted. In a sense, blacks are the more "superior" part of humanity, but you don't hear that in school do you?

    The Japanese xenophobia on the other hand is by no means genetic - it's a cultural phenomenon that built up with hundreds of years of near-isolation and culminated when their first clash with the western civilization was drunk Scots. Their society has seen little positive things from the rest of the world, so in a way their fears are not baseless. Granted, it's much too late to reject the 外人 influence. Their culture is dying simply because western culture is far more viral in nature. So yeah, they should have kept the barbarians out when they had the chance. Sucks to be you, yellow boys.

    We humans tend to be in the "reject by default" state. Everything we don't approve is automatically wrong until it becomes inconvenient to have such a stance. We are all rebellious teenagers at heart, even if you consider yourself a "responsible adult". Instincts are not something you can ever be rid of.

    The Japanese are just clinging to their disappearing culture. It's just like how the French are trying to preserve their language from the overwhelming English influence. In the end, the world will be full of fat McDonald's eating English speaking brain dead Americans who don't know the name of their president. That or Fallout style Super-Mutants. Which ironically look pretty much the same.

    It would take few decades for our cultural differences to disappear, but as long as freedom of speech exists, western influence is going to keep spreading like wildfire. Look no further than the Japanese cellphone addicted ko-gal youth if you want proof.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:19 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    23:08 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)


    Avatar of yaku
    Comment by yaku
    17:30 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Excuse me but I'm asian and for me all stuck up "races" are the same. Asian, white people, black people, brown people... They all like to think their own home (in this case country) is the best and the rest is inferior, but we're all humans and deserve the same respect.

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    When will the yellow races learn they are all the same, unlike the white races and their scientifically proven differences.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:42 22/01/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    British Imperialism is nice actually, firsthand experience.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:14 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Even if they have a history of negative encounters with foreigners (how many countries haven't?), why is it so hard for them to catch up with the rest of the world and realize foreigners don't bite? Or realize that there are a lot of foreign countries that are more open to foreigners that haven't lost their culture yet? And c'mon, drunk Scotts? Other countries have suffered at the hands of stuff like British imperialism and have still managed to open up to the world after that. Their history doesn't justify their xenophobia at all.

    Comment by Anon
    04:14 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Times like this that I remember 2ch is evil.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:30 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Screw this. The times of importing manga/anime directly from Japan is over with. If they don't want me there, then I'm sure as hell not going to help their already imploding economy.

    Viva BitTorrent!

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:09 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    So long as you wish to consume Japanese products you have an interest in the continued viability of their production, whether the inhabitants of Japan want you to move there and vote in their elections or not.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:37 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can live without manga/anime.

    They can't live without the money that foreigners pump into their economy. Be that through inesting or importing goods from Japan.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:54 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anime is not the only great shit in the world. If it wasn't anime it would be something else I'd be interested in.

    Comment by Captain Snow
    04:23 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    "First they'll ask for votes, then they'll kill our women and children from their they plot world domination using OUR shores as a foot hold. Those baka gaijins must be stopped"

    Comment by Melancholymomo
    04:13 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    Guys just remember that the storm of 'xenophobia' and blah blah.. came from 2ch and Nico.. not exactly the best people to go to, to get views on politics, especially if the topic on question is about foreigners.

    Although I am not sure that all of the Japanese populace would welcome this idea, after all Japan is meant to be one of the worlds most nationalisitic countries (no proof..), I doubt the majority would create such a fuss..

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:32 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's true. If you looked at youtube for the typical Americans reactions to political vids we're all nazi conspiracy theorists.

    Really, like, only one out of five of us is.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:26 21/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    The smaller crowds will always make a lot more fuss and give the rest (about 90%) of the population a bad rep.

    Avatar of ManaYagami
    Comment by ManaYagami
    00:15 22/04/2009 # ! Neutral (0)

    This would be the same thing as asking 4chan what they think of a certain American or European politician's interview. Most of them would be trolls, but I doubt you would see a lot of supporters.

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