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Saturday, April 24, 2010
Ishihara snubs SDP retraction request
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Friday rejected a request from Social Democratic Party chief Mizuho Fukushima to retract remarks suggesting she may be a naturalized Japanese or a descendant of one.
"I have not specified her at all (as being a naturalized person or a descendant of one)," the often abrasive governor said at a news conference. "I only made general remarks," he said.
Some people may have interpreted Ishihara's remarks as an attempt to label her Chinese or Korean.
Ishihara, who is strongly opposed to giving voting rights to foreign residents, reportedly hinted last week that many of the ruling coalition's top executives are naturalized Japanese or their descendants.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the SDP, one of its small coalition partners, advocate granting suffrage to foreigners in local elections. The DPJ has been calling for such legislation since its launch in 1998.
Fukushima denied the assertion earlier in the week.
"Me and my parents were not naturalized," Fukushima said in a statement.
Fukushima went on to say that all Japanese — naturalized or not — have equal rights and obligations. "Making that an issue, as Gov. Ishihara did, is racial discrimination in itself," Fukushima said.
Fukushima said the remark damaged her dignity and demanded that he retract it.
The government scrapped plans to submit the foreign suffrage bill while the Diet was in session after encountering fierce opposition.
Foreign nationals cannot vote in national or local elections, and changing the law has long been a controversial issue, particularly in the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which insists that permanent foreign residents must first become naturalized citizens.