National

Akita court hits vote gap, not results

Kyodo

A branch of the Sendai High Court ruled Thursday that the vote weight disparity of up to 4.77 times logged in the Upper House election in July was “in a state of unconstitutionality,” but rejected the plaintiffs’ demand that the results from the Akita constituency be nullified.

The ruling, issued by the high court’s Akita branch, was the last in a series of similar lawsuits filed at 14 high courts and their branches by lawyer groups.

Presiding Judge Yasuhiro Kuga said the vote-value gap in the July poll was in a state of unconstitutionality but not necessarily unconstitutional because it cannot be said that the Diet neglected to correct it in a reasonable period under the Constitution.

The defendant, the Akita prefectural election board, said it would take a reasonable period of time to fundamentally reform the electoral system and urged that the plaintiffs’ demand be rejected.

The Hiroshima High Court’s Okayama branch, on the other hand, ruled that the election results in the Okayama constituency should be invalidated because the disparity in the voting weights was unconstitutional.

The Osaka High Court and the Tokyo High Court have also ruled the vote-value gap unconstitutional, while the 10 other courts ruled that the disparity was in “a state of unconstitutionality.”

In October 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the maximum disparity of five times seen in the weight of votes in the 2010 Upper House election was “in a state of unconstitutionality” and called on the legislature to carry out fundamental reform.

The vote-weight disparity fell to only 4.77-fold in the July election after minor changes were made to the election law. The revisions only kicked the can down the road by stating that fundamental reform should be achieved before 2016.

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