On Wednesday the Tokyo High Court rule that the December 2012 House of Representatives election was unconstitutional due to the voter disparity of 2.34 in Tokyo’s single-seat constituency. The plaintiffs were demanding that the court nullify the results, but that was rejected on the basis that parliament has already made the necessary corrections to the electoral district zoning in order to reduce the vote-value gap.
In March of 2011, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that a voter disparity of 2.3 or less was “in a state of unconstitutionality.” That value was raised in the last general election to be up 2.43 times. Koichi Namba, the presiding judge in the Tokyo High Court case, stated this week that vote-value disparity in December 2012 was unconstitutional because parliament didn’t correct the allotment of constituencies within a reasonable amount of time after the Supreme Court ruling in 2011. Judge Namba stated “The court cannot overlook the fact that the election was conducted without changing the zoning of the electoral districts, despite a strong warning” from the Supreme Court.
The December election results would not be nullified because in November a bill was passed to reduce the number of single-seat constituencies to 295 from 300, thus reducing the disparity of votes. The zoning of electoral districts was the same as what was used in 2009, prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, because there wasn’t enough time to make the changes from the bill passed in November. Just after the results of the December election were made public, lawsuits calling for nullification based on unconstitutionality were filed in 14 high courts by two different groups of lawyers. This week’s decision from the Tokyo High Court was the first to made, with other high court rulings to be made by March 27th.
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