Refugee Acceptance and the Social State

On July 18, 2012, the German Federal Constitutional Court determined that cash benefits paid to asylum seekers for subsistence are unconstitutional according to the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act. According to the Court, the benefits are evidently insufficient and incompatible with the fundamental right to a minimum existence, which is protected as the right to human dignity in Article 1, Sec. 1 in conjunction with Article 20, Sec. 1 of the Basic Law. In its reasoning, the Court claimed that the migration policy of keeping benefits paid to asylum seekers low to avoid incentivizing migration cannot be justified. This judgment on asylum legislation has had serious impacts in the years since. However, the Court has been criticized by claims that it went too far in adopting transitional arrangements and instructing the legislative procedure. This paper examines whether the reasoning of the judgment is appropriate in an era of globalization.

Rethinking Democracy in the Context of Globalization

Globalization, the process of increasing interdependence around the world, has massively transformed patterns of legal and political order from the mostly clear-cut divisions between international and national systems to the ever more overlapping coexistence of various governance arrangements at different levels. This ongoing transformation is creating problems for democracy. On the one hand, many international and transnational institutions continue to operate with a serious democratic deficit in their decision-making processes. On the other hand, national legislations become less democratic as the number of affected but voteless individuals increases inside (and also outside) their jurisdiction. This paper addresses the problems of democracy in such troubling circumstances by directing attention to the configuration of the global order rather than to each institution and process involved in these changes.

The Enfranchisement of Foreign Residents: Nationality versus Affectedness

One important aspect of globalization is characterized by the movement of people across national and international borders, which could undermine the legitimacy of social systems and institutions that have existed within, and relied upon, the nation state. The enfranchisement of foreign immigrants is undoubtedly one of the challenges faced by countries because of the pressure of migration. Some countries grant foreign residents the right to vote in local elections without their having to complete formal naturalization, while others require them to become naturalized citizens before they can vote. This paper examines the structure and conditions under which the enfranchisement of foreign residents can or cannot be reconciled with the premises of the nation state. Using Japanese law as an example, two models of enfranchisement are compared: enfranchisement by nationality and enfranchisement by affectedness.

The Changing Case for Personal Tax Liability in Japan

Tax liability of Japan’s income tax has been based both on a taxpayer’s residence and on the source of income. A resident in Japan is liable to the tax on his worldwide income. In our local income tax, the tax liability is exclusively based on one’s residence.
However, residence-based taxation has been under attack lately. For one thing, inheritance tax, which is sometimes considered to be supplementary to income tax in Japan, is moving away from being residence-based and adding the element of nationality in deciding the bounds of taxpayers. Even if one has lost his residence in Japan, he might be still liable for inheritance tax as long as he keeps Japanese nationality. Moreover, the local tax act began to admit generous tax credit against local income tax for the donation to the other municipalities than the one in which a taxpayer lives.

Is Immigration a Chance to Rethink Social Citizenship?

One obvious response to the challenges of an ageing population and a lower birth-rate is immigration. Japan now seems to have chosen that path as it is preparing grounds to welcome a wider, economically active foreign population in the near future. In the last couple of years, the government has made some last adjustments to its social security legislation to guarantee benefits at the same level as citizens to all foreigners legally residing in Japan for three months or longer (meaning anyone who is clearly not a tourist). However there remains one notable exception, the right to livelihood protection (seikatsu-hogo). This type of non-contributory social benefit has been widely discussed in the EU in the context of Union citizenship, following ECJ cases such as Dano (2014) /Alimanovic (2015). This paper analyses how promoting immigration influences the concept of social citizenship.