Ruling coming on overseas voting

The Supreme Court is set to pass judgment on a lawsuit by Japanese living overseas who claim it is unconstitutional to disallow them to vote in national elections.

The case was turned over Wednesday for a hearing by the Grand Bench.

The court’s decision is expected to be the first time a constitutional judgment has been made on the suffrage of overseas Japanese nationals, as a lawsuit of this kind has no precedent in Japan.

In the Japanese court system, every case on appeal with the Supreme Court is first assigned to one of the three petty benches, each comprising five justices. It is transferred to the Grand Bench if it involves issues of constitutionality of law, regulation or official acts.

A group of Japanese living overseas filed the suit after the October 1996 House of Representatives election, urging the courts to recognize that denying them the right to vote in national elections violates the constitutional guarantee of equality under the law.