HIROSHIMA – In a first, the Hiroshima High Court ruled Monday that the results of last December’s general election in Hiroshima’s No. 1 and 2 districts were invalid because of significant disparities in the weight of their votes.
The ruling makes it the first court in the nation to declare an election result void as lawsuits continue to flood the system over vote-value disparities.
The election results, however, will not be invalidated immediately if the local election board appeals the ruling.
Upon hearing of the ruling from reporters, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will read the decision carefully and act appropriately. He did not elaborate.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the Lower House committee on revising electoral districts is addressing the issue and aims to revise the Public Offices Election Law to fix the problem as soon as possible.
Earlier this month, six other high courts and a high court branch ruled that vote value disparities as high to 2.43 to 1 in the Lower House election were either unconstitutional or “in a state of unconstitutionality.”
But each court dismissed the plaintiffs’ demands to nullify the results.
Immediately after the Dec. 16 House of Representatives election, two groups filed a combined 14 lawsuits with eight high courts and six of their branches, arguing the election should be invalidated.
High courts in Tokyo, Sapporo, Sendai, the Kanazawa branch of the Nagoya High Court and the Takamatsu High Court ruled that the general election was unconstitutional due to the large disparity in the weight of the votes. The Nagoya High Court and Fukuoka High Court ruled that the gap was close to an unconstitutional state.
But the high courts have rejected demands to nullify results in the constituencies they contested, saying the Diet has taken steps to rectify the zoning of electoral districts and narrow the vote-value gap.
The Hiroshima suit was led by lawyer Kuniaki Yamaguchi, and the ruling was handed down by presiding Judge Junko Ikadatsu.
In March 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that a vote disparity of up to 2.3 times in the 2009 election was “in a state of unconstitutionality.”
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party roared back to power in the December poll, ousting the Democratic Party of Japan after three years of DPJ rule, and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida of the LDP was re-elected in the Hiroshima No. 1 district.