4th court finds July upper house election constitutional

Reuters file photo
The Diet Building is pictured in Tokyo in May 2021.

NAHA (Jiji Press) — The Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court in Okinawa Prefecture on Wednesday became the fourth court to find the House of Councillors election in July constitutional in terms of vote-value disparities.

The ruling was the ninth on a total of 16 lawsuits filed with high courts and high court branches across the country by two groups of lawyers who claim that the election was unconstitutional as its maximum vote-value gap stood at 3.03 times.

Of the nine rulings, four, issued by Osaka, Tokyo, Sapporo and Hiroshima high courts, found the upper house poll to have been held in a state of unconstitutionality.

Meanwhile, the Nagoya and Takamatsu high courts and the Matsue branch of the Hiroshima High Court, in addition to the Naha high court branch, ruled the election constitutional.

The Sendai High Court is the only one so far to deem the election unconstitutional.

At the Naha court branch, Presiding Judge Yutaka Taniguchi said that electoral system reform to correct vote-value gaps “requires careful discussion and deliberation” and that therefore its progress “must be incremental.”

“It cannot be said that there was a state of inequality so significant that an issue of unconstitutionality could have arisen,” the judge concluded.

Rulings on the remaining lawsuits are expected to be handed down by Nov. 15, after which the Supreme Court is seen issuing a unified decision on the matter.