Nullified politician loses appeal law

The Supreme Court on Mar. 13 dismissed the appeal of an Aomori Prefectural Assembly member whose election victory was nullified because his campaigners violated the election law.

With the ruling, 59-year-old Isamu Moriuchi will lose his assembly seat and will not be permitted to run for the assembly from the Aomori city constituency for the next five years. The court’s decision supported a high court ruling that the law’s guilt by association clause is constitutional, and legal experts expect it will serve as a landmark case for the future.

Presiding Justice Mitsuo Endo said the Public Offices Election Law was revised in 1994 to expand the definition of guilt by association in an attempt to crack down on election violations. “The clause is stipulated to guarantee the fairness and justness of the public election system, which is the basis of democracy,” Endo said.

Moriuchi was elected to the assembly in April 1995. Subsequently, three executives who organized his campaign were arrested for wining and dining voters during the election in violation of the law. The three were found guilty.

Following the trials, the Sendai High Prosecutor’s Office filed a suit with the Sendai High Court in July 1995, seeking the nullification of the assemblyman’s election victory and a ban on his right to run in future elections.