Inclusion of Foreign Residents in Japanese Local Governments

In order to promote integration of foreign residents into host society, it might be helpful to represent their opinion to the policy making of the city where they reside. According to the Supreme Court of Japan, the right to vote is limited to Japanese for the national level elections, while it is up to the legislator to grant the right to vote in subnational level, which has not been realized as far. In order to ensure proper representation of foreign residents the City of Kawasaki took an initiative to create a local consultative council. The Council was made after the model of Frankfurt (Germany) and has a tradition since 1996. This paper examines how this council affects the policy-making of the City as well as whether this initiative to include foreign Residents in policy-making helps their integration into the society.