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Japan to settle suit with ward who wants to vote

JIJI, Kyodo

The government has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by an Ibaraki woman under guardianship who wants to exercise her right to vote, following talks with the woman, internal affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo announced.

The government plans to announce details of the settlement after it officially finishes the talks with Takumi Nagoya, 50, and her legal counsel.

“The plaintiff side has been seeking an early resolution and the environment to accept such feelings has been readied,” Shindo said Tuesday at a news conference.

According to lawyers representing Nagoya, the government has agreed to recognize that people under guardianship have voting rights, which was the condition for settling the case.

But Seikichi Nagoya, the woman’s guardian, still criticized the government as moving too slowly.

“The law on public offices election has already been revised so the government could have agreed to a settlement earlier,” Seikichi said.

The Tokyo District Court ruled in March that Nagoya has the right to vote, saying that an article in the public offices election law stipulating that adults under guardianship can’t vote is unconstitutional. The Constitution prohibits voting discrimination based on social status.

While the government filed an appeal with the Tokyo High Court, the ruling and opposition parties agreed to delete that article from the law.

The revised law was enacted May 27, enabling people under guardianship to vote. The Upper House election this Sunday will be the first in which they will be able to cast a ballot.