Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hiroshima Unconstitutionality Ruling - Links

Jiji Press
Court rules lower house poll invalid / Vote disparity in Hiroshima 'too wide'

HIROSHIMA --The Hiroshima High Court ruled Monday that the results in the No. 1 and No. 2 single-seat constituencies in Hiroshima Prefecture in the December 2012 House of Representatives election were invalid due to wide vote-value disparities.

This is the first ruling in the postwar period that has invalidated the result in an election for the lower house or the House of Councillors.

Presiding Judge Junko Ikadatsu also ruled that the wide vote-value disparities in the Dec. 16 lower house election were unconstitutional. If the ruling becomes final, elections will have to be held again in the two electoral districts.

Ikadatsu said the ruling will come into force on Nov. 27, 2013, depending on developments...

Kyodo News
Hiroshima court rules Dec. election invalid over vote disparity

HIROSHIMA -- The Hiroshima High Court ruled Monday that the results of last December's general election in Hiroshima's No. 1 and 2 districts were invalid due to significant disparities in the weight of votes.

The court is the first in Japan to declare an election result void among a series of lawsuits over vote disparities.

The election results, however, will not be invalidated immediately if the local election board appeals against the latest decision.

Earlier this month, six other high courts and a high court branch in Japan found that disparities in the value of votes of up to 2.43 to 1 in the election were either unconstitutional or close to a state of unconstitutionality...

Wall Street Journal
Hiroshima Court Rules Election Invalid

By Toko Sekiguchi -- In a landmark ruling Monday, a Hiroshima court ruled the results of the December lower-house election invalid in two districts due to the disproportionate weighting of votes in those districts.

It was the first time a Japanese court ruled election results invalid on such grounds. It is seen as a victory for constitutional rights activists, who have long argued disparities in the weighting of votes in different districts violates the constitution. The ruling ups the ante on lawmakers to fix the system.

A string of past court rulings has found that the current electoral system doesn't uphold the principle of “one person, one vote,” as prescribed in the constitution. Still, the rulings acknowledged the validity of the results — until now.

Yet neither of the winning candidates in the two districts — including Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida — will need to immediately worry about their jobs.

According to local media reports, the ruling stipulates that the nullification of the election results takes effect only from Nov. 26. That gives Hiroshima's board of elections time to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Internal Affairs Ministry says even if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, it won’t necessarily mean new polls...


Me, myself, I...

For Al-Jazeera six months ago, back in the days when I believed former prime minister Noda Yoshihiko had a backbone:
Will Japan's government disappear?
A Supreme Court ruling in Japan could shake up the political landscape of the country.

A pop quiz: Name the country in East Asia where national elections are illegal. In fact, holding a national election would be unconstitutional.

The answer: Japan.

Not the answer one would expect. However, on October 17, the Supreme Court of Japan ruled unconstitutional the current electoral districts used to assign seats in the House of Councillors. This complements the Supreme Court ruling of March 2010 [sic], which found the district boundaries of the House of Representatives to be also unconstitutional.

In both instances, the Court ruled that the elections selecting the current membership of the Diet were unconstitutional. This means that every single member of Japan's current parliament is occupying his or her seat illegally. In both cases, however, the Court wisely decided that what's done is done, and that having no Diet was worse than having an illegal one.

Creating a new Diet

Having ruled that the electoral districts of both Houses of the Diet are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has set the stage for a titanic contest of wills in between Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko and his Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition alliance of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito...

In the East Asia Forum, published on the day of the problematic election.
Japan’s ‘nothing’ election
December 16th, 2012


To make matters worse, the failure to implement a redrawing of the electoral district map based upon the +0/-5 solution means the election has been carried out using an electoral district map the Supreme Court finds unconstitutional. The Supreme Court on 28 November showed its traditional deference to the decisions of the legislative branch, a panel of the justices refusing, on procedural grounds, to halt the 16 December election. However, the Court has no qualms with lawsuits filed after the election. A crusading group of lawyers is ready to file lawsuits in 60 jurisdictions on 17 December, seeking to invalidate the election’s results.

And here, ad nauseum:


As to the issue of when the Hiroshima decision goes into effect...Justice Ikadatsu has given the Diet up to one calendar year from the first convening of the meetings of the commission on electoral boundaries (a commission under the umbrella of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Telecommunications) to come up with a plan meeting constitutional muster.

The commission met for the first time on November 26, 2012.

As to what "constitutional muster" means, both the Tokyo High Court and the Sapporo High Court found the egregious +0/-5 reform passed on the last day of the previous Diet's existence a risible solution contrary to the Supreme Court's intent.

Expect more trouble on this issue.


Greg said...

Finally, FINALLY!, a regional court has handed down a ruling on the invalidity of the 2012 election.

The question is; will it prompt the government to make adjustments to electoral districts in keeping with the previous ruling of the Supreme Court in 2009?

Constitutional lawyers might be buoyed by the fact that such a ruling sets a precedent which can then be cited by the Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court rules the 2012election both unconstitutional and invalid, then the legitimacy of the Abe government will vanish, leading to either another general election or a series of by-elections.

Yet in the absence of any bona fide proposal for an equal distribution of vote weight per district, which will need to be approved by the Diet, how on earth will the government run an election campaign without the result of that also being ruled invalid?

Justice Ikadatsu has handed the government a final notice. If it truly respects the Constitution and the rule of law, the government will amend, in its entirety, this electoral anomaly.

For some reason, I don't think this will be enough to override vested interests in Nagata-cho in keeping the current system unequal. It may take a few more invalidity rulings to ram home the need for change before the issue ends up in front of the Supreme Court again.

Philippe said...

And now the Okayama High-court has rule the election invalid, according to Mainichi. Yay.

While I’m quite happy to finally see an election ruled invalid due the voter disparity issue, it is kinda sad and depressing actually, that for one it took so long. Two, that it takes power-lawyers and many High Court and Supreme Court rulings to have the politicians eventually take care of the issue. And three, the extend to which the old-boys networks, the Diet and politicians in general thumb their nose at grass-roots activism and voter concern.

I don't have much hope for the plan presented by the Abe-san regime (… intentional choice of words!) to actually go far enough.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it is ok to draw a salary as an MP if the election is invalid. We already must assume that the rep has no legitimate status. Is the November deadline to have redone elections or is it to have redrawn the districting? What happens in the meantime? This is much more of a clusterF than it appears to be on the basis of reporting.

I suppose there are a number (majority?) of seats where the voter/rep ratio is close to average and thus "legit". Are there sufficient number of them to make reform a reasonable process?

So many questions....


Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for Shisaku, I would not have known that this was an issue.


Anonymous said...

Well, if you excluded the representatives of all the grossly-undersized electorates then the people living there would find their vote of zero value. Which is not actually an improvement.

[it strikes me that MMP will correct for disproportionalities arising from grotesque malapportionmeant just as well as it does for the more normal majoritarian single districts. And japan already has proportional seats. If you wanted to fix the underlying problems with minimal change it's hard to think of a better proposal than this one: that this doesn't seem to be a proposal that anyone's making says a lot about how people are prioritising "fixing the underlying problems" and "with minimal change", I guess.]