Lawyers ready suits to nullify summer poll results

JIJI, Kyodo

A group of lawyers is poised to file suits across Japan the day after the House of Councilors election this summer, seeking to invalidate the poll due to wide vote-value disparities, the group said.

The group was the plaintiff in cases in which a high court and its branch ruled results to be invalid in some constituencies in the Lower House election last December, the first rulings to void the results of a Diet election in the postwar period.

The group said Monday that it plans to file suits at 14 high courts and high court branches for all 47 Upper House constituencies.

According to lawyer Hidetoshi Masunaga and other members of the group, the lawsuits will be the first aimed at invalidating the election results for all constituencies in a Lower House or Upper House election.

The group says the allocation of seats can be revised by the Upper House with uncontested members and members elected under the proportional representation system, even if the upcoming election is nullified and all 73 members elected from constituencies lose seats.

In October 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the disparity in the weight of votes up to fivefold in the 2010 Upper House election was “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

The top court, however, rejected the plaintiffs’ demand that the election be invalidated and urged lawmakers to promptly correct the disparities.

Last November, the law was revised to redress disparities by increasing the number of seats in four constituencies and reducing the number in four others.

As a result, the maximum disparity among Upper House constituencies, based on an estimate in line with the 2010 census, would fall to 4.75-fold.

Masunaga, however, criticized the revision, claiming it did not follow the Supreme Court order to change the current zoning based on prefectures.

Another group of lawyers has filed a suit to block this summer’s Upper House election with the Tokyo District Court, claiming the seats are not allocated according to population.