• Kyodo

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A feeling of relief swept among the ranks of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party amid intensifying criticsm from the opposition camp following Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling that judged a recent national election bordered on unconstitutionality but let the poll’s outcome stand.

“I take the ruling seriously, and I hope to continue work on funadmental reforms” of the electoral system, said LDP member Masaaki Yamazaki, president of the Upper House, in a statement following the ruling.

The Supreme Court ruled the Upper House election in summer 2013 bordered on being unconstitutional due to an “outrageous” disparity in the weight of votes between districts, but it rejected the plaintiff’s demand to invalidate the result.

Following the ruling, Chuichi Date, secretary-general for the LDP in the House of Councilors, said, “It’s a harsh ruling, and I take (the message) humbly.” However, Date, who also chairs suprapartisan negotiations on electoral reforms, added: “I had expected the ruling would reject the demand to nullify the election result, but I must admit I felt relieved” to have avoided a nullification.

“I hope to continue negotiations to bring parties closer to an agreement (on reforms) so that we’ll have a concrete proposal,” said Mitsuhide Iwaki, a senior Upper House member of the LDP.

Opposition parties, disappointed by the LDP’s failure to attempt to unify reform proposals into a bill in the suprapartisan negotiations, blasted the ruling party.

Instead of unifying, the LDP recently presented to the opposition camp three proposals all allowing for a single vote-value disparity exceeding 1:3. The LDP plans to compile a report on the negotiations in which the opposition proposals are separately attached.

Date will present the report to the suprapartisan meeting Friday.

“The (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe administration has been reluctant toward (electoral) reforms,” Kenji Eda, a co-leader of Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party ), said in an address at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“The LDP presented three proposals only recently, and they are irresponsible,” said Seiji Mataichi, an Upper House member of the Social Democratic Party.

Criticism has also bee

n raised within the LDP.

Masashi Waki, an Upper House LDP member and predecessor to Date in chairing the suprapartisan negotiations, said, “(The ruling) is a shameful result. We met with opposition parties repeatedly but we still haven’t narrowed our differences. The LDP is being irresponsible.”

Yuichiro Hata, an Upper House member of the largest opposition force, the Democratic Party of Japan, blasted the LDP’s three proposals, describing them as being “far from fundamental reforms.”

“(The LDP) is not trying to unify (the ruling and opposition camps’) proposals,” Hata said. “The biggest hurdle to electoral reforms is the LDP.”

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