The editorial “LDP’s proposed electoral system amendment” in the Feb. 22 edition was critical of a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing each prefecture at least one representative in the Upper House. The proposal isn’t perfect, but neither are objections in the editorial.

The editors cite a conflict with Article 43, saying that both houses are to be representative of all the people. But they confuse deliberation with decision-making. It is possible for representatives to give voice to local concerns, while making decisions considering the welfare of the nation as a whole. Indeed, one cannot achieve such decisions without first hearing all of those voices.

That’s why the Constitution mandates election districts (Article 47). The drafters could have required that elections be based on a nationwide party-list proportional system. But they did not. And the Supreme Court has continually upheld district-based elections without noting any conflict in the Constitution.

The other argument is that this won’t solve the gap in vote values across constituencies. But neither does the current principle used by the Supreme Court to mandate changes in voting districts.

Among 295 Lower House districts, 43,365 inter-district comparisons can be made; for the Upper House 1,081 comparisons can be made among 47 prefectures. The Supreme Court looks only at the one most extreme ratio, instead of considering the distribution of ratios. So one inter-district ratio above 2-to-1 brings the justices’ wrath, but in principle they tolerate hundreds or thousands above 1.9-to-1. This makes no sense.

Even with its current method, the court could just as easily mandate increasing the number of districts as reducing them. This would be fairer to everyone.

The government imposes obligations on prefectures. It is imperative that each prefecture have its voice. If anything, the amendment should apply to both houses.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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