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A Vote for Every Resident

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 Posted: 11:08 AM JST

(Asahi Shimbun) - Ten years ago this month saw a landmark referendum held in Japan. It was to decide on a local ordinance in the former town of Maki, Niigata Prefecture, over construction of a nuclear power plant. It was a much-publicized moment: Citizens deciding things for themselves about local issues was almost unheard of.

Things are different now. The citizens group Jumintohyo Rippo Forum (住民投票立法フォーラム - residents referendum legislation forum) says that since that first local vote, about 370 referendums have been held nationwide. Japan is among the countries that hold many referendums annually.

But more than 90 percent of them have been concerned with municipal mergers. Few votes are held over other projects, like airport construction. Why? Read article

Keywords: opinion_item

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
Stone Bridge Press

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