JAPAN - Thursday's ruling by the Hiroshima High Court's Okayama branch that the House of Councillors election in July, in which the maximum disparity between the value of votes was 4.77-to-1, was "unconstitutional" was the first of its kind for an upper house election.
The ruling conveys a distrust of the Diet, which has been slow in rectifying vote-value disparities.
But the ruling did not follow in the steps of the ruling by the Supreme Court's Grand Bench on November 20, which widely recognised the discretion of the Diet on the issue. According to judges and experts, the branch court ruling went too far.
A judge well-versed in lawsuits on disparities in the value of votes did not hide his surprise.
"(The ruling) completely ignored the Supreme Court's reasoning," the judge said.
The electoral systems of the upper house and the House of Representatives are different, but the frameworks for the rulings in a lawsuit on vote-value disparities are the same. It is judged in two steps and ruled unconstitutional if both criteria are met. The first step is to determine whether the disparity results in extreme inequality, and the second step is to decide whether an adequate amount of time to rectify the situation has passed.