• Kyodo

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High courts on Thursday rejected two more lawsuits aimed at nullifying the results of the Upper House election in July over the nationwide disparities in voting values.

The rulings were the latest in a series of cases challenging the election since last week.

But the Osaka High Court and the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court differed in their interpretations of the maximum disparity of 3.08 times between the most- and least-represented constituencies in the July 10 House of Councilors election. The former termed the system as being “in a state of unconstitutionality” and the latter termed it “constitutional.”

The vote weight disparity had shrunk from a maximum of 4.77 times in the previous Upper House election in 2013 after the Diet acted to combine two pairs of less-populated prefectures into two constituencies.

Following the July 10 election, 16 lawsuits were filed across the country by two lawyer groups seeking to void the outcome on the grounds that the maximum vote-value gap of 3.08 times violated the “one person, one vote” principle. The last of the series of the rulings will be issued on Nov. 8.

In all nine rulings since Friday, high courts have rejected calls for invalidating the election outcome. Four of them termed the disparities in voting weights constitutional, while five stuck with the Supreme Court’s description of the gaps being “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

On Wednesday three high courts rejected lawsuits filed by the same lawyer groups, and likewise gave differing opinions on the constitutionality of the disparity itself.

The Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court ruled that the maximum disparity of 3.08 times was “constitutional,” while the Akita branch of the Sendai High Court and the Hiroshima High Court ruled the disparity was “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

At the Hiroshima court, presiding Judge Koji Ikuno said, “The imbalance in vote weight was at a level of significant inequality that raises issues of unconstitutionality.” He added it is appropriate to give the Diet one more chance to resolve the problem.

Kazunori Yamada, the Akita branch’s presiding judge, said the maximum disparity did not constitute a violation of the Constitution, citing that efforts were made to narrow it.

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