A majority of voters oppose holding a Lower House election without rectifying large differences in the value of votes in different constituencies, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.
The survey, conducted ahead of Japan’s Constitution Day on May 3, found 53 percent of respondents opposed a Lower House election under the current situation. Only 27 percent of people wanted an election without changes.
The Supreme Court ruled on March 23, 2011, that the disparity of up to 2.3 times in the value of votes in different areas in the Lower House election in August 2009 was “in a state of unconstitutionality,” and demanded that the legislature improve the situation.
The ruling and opposition parties have started discussions on reducing that disparity to 2-to-1, but there is no immediate prospect of a conclusion to those talks.
The court decision attributed the disparity primarily to a seat distribution system in which one seat is allocated to each of Japan’s 47 prefectures before the remaining 253 seats for single-seat constituencies are distributed according to voter populations.
Respondents to the Asahi survey living in larger municipalities were more likely to oppose holding the election with the current disparities.
In municipalities with a population of less than 50,000, the percentage of respondents saying an election should not be held without changes was 39 percent, with 36 percent saying it could go ahead. In Tokyo’s 23 wards and in cities with populations of 500,000 or more, 59 percent of people opposed an election under the current system.
Only 13 percent of respondents thought a disparity in the value of a vote of 2-to-1 or greater was acceptable. Fifty-one percent of people said they could accept a disparity of less than 2-to-1, while 20 percent of people wanted as close to equality as possible.
Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, criticized the Diet for not making an effort to rectify the disparities.
“When we are going to ask the public to share burdens, including a possible tax increase, it is a minimum responsibility for politicians to thoroughly protect the value of a vote,” Hashimoto said on May 2. “If they cannot do this, they had better resign as Diet members.”
Hironobu Takesaki, 67, chief justice of the Supreme Court, told a news conference that the election system should be reviewed.
“The judgment of the Supreme Court has been shown at the Grand Bench,” he said. “Under this country's system, (the Diet) must properly review the matter in accordance with the decision.”
The Asahi’s telephone survey of households with eligible voters across the nation was conducted on April 21 and 22. There were 1,565 valid responses.
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