/

Lower House panel hands Abe remedy for vote-value disparities

Kyodo

A Diet panel has compiled a formal recommendation that the government rectify the vote-value disparity between the least- and most-populous constituencies by reducing the number of Lower House electoral districts.

The panel is seeking to eliminate five single-seat constituencies, in Fukui, Yamanashi, Tokushima, Kochi and Saga prefectures, while making zoning adjustments in other prefectures.

The proposal, drafted Thursday by the Lower House panel, was submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later the same day.

The panel examined the current zoning of constituencies with the aim of lowering the maximum disparity ratio to less than 2 times. The recommendation presented to Abe would decrease the ratio to 1.998 times.

In the Dec. 16 general election, the value of a single vote in the constituency with the smallest number of eligible voters was 2.43 times larger than that in the district with the highest number.

A series of high court judgments nationwide have criticized the Diet for its inaction on reforming the disparities, which the Supreme Court in March 2011 ruled were in a “state of unconstitutionality” following the 2009 Lower House poll.

In November, the Diet enacted a law to address the problem by cutting the number of Lower House single-seat constituencies to 295 from 300. But it had not been applied by the time of December’s general election.

The government is expected to submit a related bill to the Diet in early April while seeking cooperation from the opposition, which has called for wider reforms.