A group of lawyers filed lawsuits across the nation Monday seeking to nullify Sunday’s House of Councilors election, arguing the unconstitutional disparity in the value of votes has gone uncorrected for too long.
It is the first time that the elections results for every district in the nation have been challenged. The suits were filed at all of the country’s 14 high courts and branches.
Another group of lawyers meanwhile brought a separate case to the Hiroshima High Court seeking to invalidate the elections results for the Hiroshima prefectural district. The groups plan to file a similar suit in Tokyo.
“The latest election was held without drastic (vote value) reforms,” Tetsuya Kanao, a member of the group that filed in Hiroshima, said at a news conference.
“It is natural for the number of lawmakers to be in proportion with the population in a democratic, advanced country and it is only in Japan that such a disparity exists,” Kanao said.
Based on the number of people who voted on Sunday, the disparity in the latest election was 4.77 between Tottori, the least populated prefecture per lawmaker, and Hokkaido, the most populated.
The Supreme Court ruled last October that the fivefold disparity in the weight of votes in the 2010 Upper House election was “in a state of unconstitutionality.” The top court urged lawmakers to promptly correct the disparity, but nothing happened.
Amendments made last November to the election law, effective from the just-ended election, slightly lowered the disparity rate to the legal minimum by adding two seats in two districts and cutting two from two others.
Lawsuits were also filed over vote disparities in the House of Representatives election in December, when the Liberal Democratic Party overthrew the Democratic Party of Japan and returned to power.
The December election was conducted with the same zoning of electoral districts as in the 2009 contest, although the law enacted in November to reduce vote weight disparities requires that the number of Lower House single-seat constituencies be cut to 295 from 300.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the matter within the year. High courts have ruled in 12 cases that the election results were unconstitutional but valid, while two other rulings said results were in a state of unconstitutionality and two others invalidated results as unconstitutional for the first time.