• Kyodo

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For the second time in less than a week, a high court has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the July Upper House election over the disparity in the value of votes in the most and least represented constituencies.

The Kanazawa branch of the Nagoya High Court did not void the election in its ruling Monday, but it did say that the vote weight disparity of up to 3.08 times was “in a state of unconstitutionality,” the same judgment made by the Okayama branch of the Hiroshima High Court last Friday.

Plaintiffs in both cases immediately appealed the rulings to the Supreme Court.

Monday’s decision was the second among 16 lawsuits filed with high courts across Japan by two groups of lawyers over the July 10 Upper House election. They argued that the vote disparity violates equality under the law stipulated in the Constitution.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the 2013 Upper House election, in which the vote disparity between the most and least populated constituencies was up to 4.77 times, was “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

The ruling prompted the Diet to make changes to the electoral system, most notably by merging two pairs of sparsely populated prefectures in western Japan into two constituencies. The changes narrowed the gap in the July election in the value of each vote to 3.08 to 1.

In Monday’s ruling, presiding Judge Masayuki Naito credited the Diet with making some improvements but said the changes “fell short of fully addressing the substantial inequality” in the value of votes between constituencies.

The plaintiffs in Monday’s case were residents of Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui prefectures, all in the Hokuriku region.

On the day of the vote in July, the gap in the value of each vote between the Fukui constituency — which has the fewest voters per representative — and the Toyama constituency was 1.38 times, and the gap between the Fukui and Ishikawa constituencies was 1.46 times, according to the internal affairs ministry.

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