Posted August. 20, 2009 08:21,
Mindan, a group of ethnic Korean residents in Japan, is expected to back the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in the Aug. 30 general elections.
The group yesterday said it will favor candidates who support suffrage for ethnic Koreans, the first time it will participate in national-level elections since its establishment in 1946.
In an emergency meeting of chapter heads in Tokyo, Mindan decided to mobilize not only its central and province-based offices but also its affiliates to support candidates who support voting rights for ethnic Korean residents.
The groups leader Chung Jin said, The time has finally come to take decisive action. We must secure suffrage as a basic right of residents in the provinces, adding, Lets do our utmost to elect those who support suffrage for ethnic Korean residents.
The decision implies Mindans endorsement of the opposition party. The party said it will keep its policy of granting suffrage for foreign residents.
Party leader Yukio Hatoyama reaffirmed this in a recent news conference, saying, If we take power, we will address the issue immediately.
Mindan vice president Heo Maeng-do told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone, With the decision, we have effectively endorsed the Democratic Party.
Among candidates running in 300 small electoral districts, the group named 220 of them as supporting suffrage for ethnic Koreans. Most of them are said to be from the Democratic Party.
The group said the general elections, in which the Democratic Party is expected to win, to pave the way for obtaining voting rights for ethnic Korean residents in Japan.
Mindan has close ties with the opposition party. The group filed a petition with the Diet through the party to scrap a law requiring ethnic Koreans to carry alien registration certificates in Japan, a symbol of discrimination.
Over the past decade, the group has unsuccessfully tried to gain suffrage through the ruling Liberal Democratic Partys ruling coalition partner New Komeito Party. Given the lack of progress, Mindan turned to the Democratic Party.
The group criticized the ruling coalition in an official statement, saying, Though more than 10 years have been passed since a bill to grant local suffrage was submitted to the Diet in 1998, we still cannot vote in local elections. We are enraged and cannot stand this situation any longer.
Mindan has about 400,000 ethnic Koreans as members. After its decision, 49 central and provincial headquarters, 310 provincial chapters, and affiliates began election campaigns.