A Japanese city is considering not including foreigners within its definition of citizens, officials said Wednesday, after receiving public comment opposing a potential ordinance revision to that end.

The city of Kumamoto in southwestern Japan, which currently only defines its citizens as residents as well as people studying there, had planned to add the phrase "those with a foreign nationality" amid a growing foreign population.

A shopping street in Kumamoto, southwestern Japan, is crowded with people on May 16, 2020. (Kyodo)

It hoped the revision would encourage foreign residents to participate in community activities. But the proposal led to a misunderstanding that they would eventually get voting rights, the officials said.

Most of the 1,888 comments, received in about a month from Dec. 20, were opposed to the possible revision, according to the city.

Both ruling and opposition members of the municipal assembly expressed views questioning the revision during a session of its committee on Tuesday, with some saying it could cause divisions among residents.

Kenichi Yokota, senior official supervising cultural and citizens affairs, responded, "I think it's premature to clearly state it in writing at the present time if it's going to lead to confusion."

The city now plans to make a final decision after further consulting with citizens.