The First Amendment’s Trans-Border Dimension

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1 Response

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Your issue about aliens’ campaign contributions is quite pertinent here in Japan. Such contributions are strictly prohibited, even from aliens born here and whose families have been here for generations, holding permanent resident status. (The biggest such group of multi-generational aliens comprises persons of Korean nationality. Their presence is an historical legacy of WWII. Some identify with North Korea, not with the South.) Many of them have Japanese names. This constantly trips up politicians — why they don’t check passports, I’ll never understand. The popular and competent foreign minister Maehara Seiji stepped down when he had to reveal that he had received and refunded about US$3,000 from such a person; but for that, he would probably be prime minister now. (His rival, current PM Noda, received such donations, too — as was revealed after he won the election to be party leader. And then-PM Kan had received a much bigger foreign donation, but this was a headline only on the morning of March 11 — the day of the earthquake and tsunami.)

    The constitutional point is that the 1946 Constitution provides (Art. 21, clause 1), “Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed.” I don’t know if the campaign restriction has been adjudicated — and I think it has a lot of popular support here anyway, especially since there are streamlined procedures for multi-generational aliens to naturalize, yet most decline to do so. Nonetheless, people at large are more forgiving of a de minimis infraction like Maehara’s than are his enemies within his party and across the aisle. But as one scholar has recently observed, Japan’s Supreme Court has never struck down any restriction on free speech that it’s had to adjudicate.