• Kyodo

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A Hiroshima court rejected a suit Wednesday demanding invalidation of the outcome of the July Upper House election due to disparity in the weight of votes, adding to a growing list of similar rulings over the election.

But in the 10th ruling on similar lawsuits filed nationwide, the Matsue branch of the Hiroshima High Court said the maximum disparity of 3.08 times between the most and least populated constituencies in the July 10 House of Councilors election was “in a state of unconstitutionality.”

In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Akiyoshi Tsugamura said it is “unacceptable under the Constitution to sacrifice equality in the value of each vote” by sticking to demarcation of constituencies based on prefectural borders.

He also said the court could not find “reasonable grounds” for the roughly threefold gap remaining in the weight of votes after a recent redrawing of boundaries by the Diet, and that more efforts could have been made to narrow the disparity.

Tsugamura, however, gave measured approval to legislative steps to rectify the vote weight disparity, saying that the Diet had produced “some results,” showing a positive stance toward reviewing the system in a drastic manner in the future.

The vote weight disparity in the July election had narrowed from a maximum of 4.77 times seen in the previous Upper House election in 2013 after the Diet implemented new measures including combining two pairs of less-populated prefectures into two electoral districts.

After the July election, 16 lawsuits were filed nationwide by two groups of lawyers seeking to void the election results on the grounds that the vote weight disparity violated the “one person, one vote” principle under the Constitution.

Among the 10 rulings so far, all high courts have rejected calls for invalidating the election outcome, with four of them calling the vote weight gap “constitutional” and six “in a state of unconstitutionality.”