TAKAMATSU, KAGAWA PREF. – The December general election was unconstitutional due to a significant disparity in the weight of votes, the Takamatsu High Court ruled Friday, although it refrained from invalidating the poll outcome in a western constituency.
The outcome mirrors recent rulings on the poll by other courts, which similarly found the disparities to be unconstitutional or verging on unconstitutional, but did not overturn the election results.
The number of voters in the Kagawa No. 1 constituency was about 1.5 times as large as that in the least-populous electoral zone, in Kochi Prefecture, but the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ demand that the poll results in the constituency be nullified.
On Thursday, the Tokyo High Court ruled that the Lower House election was constitutional despite claims by lawyers acting as plaintiffs that the results should be nullified in two of the 11 proportional representation blocks due to vote-value disparities.
The ruling came in response to a suit claiming there were large vote-value discrepancies among the 11 blocks when the population was divided by the total number of House of Representatives seats for proportional representation and single-seat constituencies in every block.
Each of the 11 blocks has a fixed number of seats for proportional representation and for single-seat constituencies. The plaintiffs had argued that one block had a larger number of Lower House seats and fewer voters than others.
But presiding Judge Ryuichi Shitara said there is no reason to combine seats for proportional representation with those for single-seat constituencies in each block, endorsing the view of the Central Election Management Council, the defendant in the suit.
Based on the last census, conducted in 2010, Shitara ruled the maximum vote disparity for the 180-seat proportional representation portion of the 480-seat Lower House was limited to 1.17 times between the least-populated block, Shikoku, and the most-populated, Tokyo.
The disparity was not large enough to affect the equality of votes, he said.
Immediately after the Dec. 16 election, two groups of lawyers filed a total of 14 lawsuits with eight high courts and six of their branches in Japan, arguing the election should be invalidated due to the large vote-value gap.
In March 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that a vote-value disparity of up to 2.3 times in the 2009 election was “close to a state of unconstitutionality.”