Groups of lawyers filed lawsuits against disparities of vote-value. A recent ruling issued by the Tokyo High Court says 'the December 2012 Lower House election is unconstitutional as vote-casting was made in the identical zoning of constituencies as 2009'. The Tokyo Shimbun Newspaper put a lead March 7 on the front page, which reads 'government not entitled to claim for Constitution amendment'. The commentary was persuasive.
ELECTION SYSTEM ITSELF VIOLATES CONSTITUTION
In total 37.30 million votes (56.0%), the biggest in the history, were wasted in the December 2012 general election. These votes did nothing to obtain a seat in the parliament. A congressman, even though he has won in the existing single-seat constituency system, is not regarded as 'a duly elected representative' (Preamble of Constitution) and, therefore, he is not either entitled to discuss amendment of Constitution.
It is two years since the Supreme Court ruled that the outcome of the 2009 General Election is 'close to a state of unconstitutionality'.
A group of lawyers filed last year a lawsuit, arguing that the 2012 election should be unconstitutional as disparity of one vote reaches 2.43 in its maximum, and demanded to invalidate the results of the No.1 Election District of Tokyo. The high court ruled recently the outcome is unconstitutional, supporting the plaintiffs.
Court Rejects Raison d'etre of Diet
The article of Tokyo Shimbun says 'the court disapproved the 480 elected members of Lower House of raison d'etre. The Diet itself is unconstitutional'. It continues to say that 'lately the Diet goes rapidly to amending the Constitution. The legislative authority which the court judges as unconstitutional is not entitled to present a bill to rewrite the Constitution'.
The Abe government itself is on the verge of illegitimacy.
The parallel voting system, a mixed scheme for a single chamber in which voters cast two votes for the constituency and proportional representation channels, was introduced into the Lower House elections and since then disparity of one vote has expanded; in 2002 when the zoning was rearranged the discrepancy was 2.03 times, in 2009 it was 2.30 and in 2012 it reached 2.43.
The Constitution Preamble specifies 'duly elected representative in the National Diet' and Article 43 says 'elected members, representatives of all people'. If 'a vote is clean', vote-value disparities are not allowed. One person must not represent two votes.
The court ruling declares the current district setting, which changes in accordance with population movements, is in a dead end.
The New Socialist Party has pointed out that the small constituency system, in which a half of votes are wasted, is against the Constitution as it bases on people's sovereignty. The Diet approved to introduce this controversial system in 1994 as a policy of the reform package.
Advocates boldly insisted the new scheme would help two big political parties to become a government in turn. But the December election showed that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party gained only 43% of the total votes to win 80% of the seats, while opposition parties remain in the middle or mini sizes. A prospect of 'alternation of two big parties' was proven to be an illusion. That is evident to everyone.
Reduced Proportional Seats Distorts People's Will
Nevertheless, lawmakers are eager in this Diet session to reduce seats brought by the proportional representation channel. Voters can express, relatively, easily, their will in this way. If the number of seats decreases, they will face difficulties.
The recent ruling of Tokyo High Court appreciated a policy, called Zero-increase with Five-reductions, in which a seat is cut, respectively, in five prefectures with no increase in the Diet seats. It was adopted by the Diet on the same day of its dissolution last December. The court rejected the lawyers' contention of invalidation (to hold the general election again). In total 16 cases are filed nationwide, and other courts will issue similar rulings of unconstitutionality on the December election until March 27, when the Akita branch of Sendai High Court will order.
The important point does not lie in the way how to zone constituencies in the current system, but the combined structure of single-seat constituency with proportional representation system itself violates Constitution. What is needed is to arrange a system based on the proportional representation norm that could easily reflect will of the electorate.
March 19, 2013