• Kyodo

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Two groups of lawyers said they are filing lawsuits with courts across Japan seeking nullification of the outcome of Sunday’s Upper House election due to the uncorrected disparity in the weight of votes between constituencies.

The focus is on whether the disparity in the value of votes in the nation’s 45 electoral districts will be judged as unconstitutional, after the Diet last year enacted a law designed to narrow the vote weight gaps between voters.

While keeping the total number of Upper House seats unchanged at 242, the latest legislation merged four two-seat prefectures — Tottori with Shimane and Tokushima with Kochi — into two two-seat constituencies.

It also reduced the number of seats from four to two each for Miyagi, Niigata and Nagano prefectures, while raising them by two each for five other prefectures — Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Hyogo and Fukuoka.

The measures were supposed to narrow the vote weight disparity between the most and least populated constituencies from up to 4.77 times in the previous Upper House election in July 2013, which the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 as being “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

A group of lawyers brought a case to the Hiroshima High Court on Monday seeking to invalidate the result for Hiroshima Prefecture and was planning to take similar action in Tokyo.

The other group said it was filing separate lawsuits asking the nation’s 14 high courts and branches to void the results of Sunday’s Upper House election across the country.

High courts are the first to judge whether an election outcome is valid, under Japan’s legal system.

Based on the number of voters as of June 21, the largest disparity in Sunday’s election is estimated by Kyodo News to have been 3.08 between Saitama and Fukui.

Regarding previous Upper House elections, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 2010 election, with a fivefold disparity in the weight of votes, and the 2013 race were “in a state of unconstitutionality.” The top court urged lawmakers to promptly correct this problem.

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