--The Asahi Shimbun, March 28
(社説)不平等な一票 正統性が問われている
EDITORIAL: Diet's failure to fix vote-value disparity shows contempt for democracy

The Diet’s legitimacy to change Japan’s postwar pacifist principles or to initiate debate on constitutional amendments has been called into question by its failure to solve the serious problem of vote-value disparity.
いまの国会に、戦後の平和主義を転換したり、憲法を変える論議を提起したりする正統性があるといえるのか。

Although it is considering a new measure to improve the situation, the Diet has been far too slow to take steps to rectify the gross political inequality.
新たな是正策を検討しているとはいえ、国会の動きはあまりに鈍い。

It is hard not to doubt even the Diet’s will to respect the fundamental principle of equality under the law.
法の下の平等という原則を尊重する意思があるのか。それすら疑わざるを得ない。

High courts across the nation have handed down rulings on the constitutionality of the Lower House election last December, which was held with significant inequity in the value of a single vote.
昨年12月の衆院選の一票の格差をめぐる判決が、各地の高裁・支部で続いている。

Rulings have been delivered on 14 of the 17 lawsuits filed by lawyers’ groups in various high courts demanding that the election results be nullified.
One of the courts ruled that the election was “unconstitutional,” and nine ruled that it was held in a “state of unconstitutionality,” one step short of an outright violation of the Constitution. Four courts said the election was constitutional.
17件のうち14件で判決が出て、「違憲」が1、その手前の「違憲状態」が9。「合憲」は4だった。

In ruling that the election was held in a state of unconstitutionality, one of the high courts effectively set a deadline of December 2016 for redressing the situation in line with the Diet’s time frame for reforming the electoral system. The ruling sounded like ultimatum that unless the system is reformed, the next election could be declared unconstitutional and invalid.
「違憲状態」判決には、来年12月を期限とし、改めずに選挙したら次は「違憲・無効」もありという、最後通告のような厳しさも含まれている。

In the December Lower House election, one vote in the nation’s least populated constituency was worth 2.13 votes in the most heavily populated district. In other words, the weight of one person’s vote in a certain district was less than half of the weight of another person’s vote in a different district.
あのときの一票の格差は最大2・13倍。ある人の投票の重みが、違う選挙区に住む人の半分にも満たないことを意味する。

Why do voters have to put up with such outrageous inequality? The Diet’s negligence in failing to fix the problem is nothing but contempt for democracy.
そこまでの不平等を、有権者は耐え忍ぶしかないのか。国会の怠慢による不平等の放置は、民主主義に対する軽蔑以外の何ものでもない。

Before the Lower House election, the Diet tweaked the electoral system by reducing the number of single-seat constituencies by one each in five prefectures. But the Diet has kept intact the method of first distributing one seat to each of the 47 prefectures before allocating the remaining seats in the single-seat constituency part of the system in proportion to population.
前回衆院選は「0増5減」の調整はされたが、議席をまず都道府県に一つずつ割り振る「1人別枠方式」を事実上残して行われた。

Four years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that this approach was the main cause of the vote-value disparity and called for its abolition.
最高裁が4年前、一票の重みを不平等にする主因とし、廃止を促した方法だ。

However, no radical reform of the system to bring the disparity closer to zero has been carried out. What the Diet is currently considering is a proposal to reduce the numbers of seats allocated to nine prefectures by one each, while increasing the numbers of seats in six prefectures by one to three. But this is just another adjustment to make the figures look better.
格差をゼロに近づける抜本改革はなされず、いま検討されているのも「9増9減」という、別の数合わせにすぎない。

By making such a lukewarm response, the Diet cannot escape being criticized for lowering its own representation and legitimacy.
自ら代表性や正統性を低めようとしているといわれても仕方ない。

We don’t need to wait for a Supreme Court ruling to say that the Diet has no choice but to start making serious efforts to overhaul the electoral systems for both houses.
最高裁の判決を待つまでもなく、国会は衆参両院をにらんだ抜本改革に本気で取り組むしかない。

Some lawmakers feel that it is not imperative to reform the system because four high courts have ruled the election was constitutional.
合憲判決があったことで開き直る雰囲気もあるようだが、

But they are wrong.
それは間違っている。

These rulings were based on the assumption that the Diet will make progress in improving the system. These legislators should understand that the courts simply showed respect for the legislature’s power to make policy decisions on the issue.
あくまでも国会で制度見直しが進むことを前提にしており、三権の緊張関係の中で、司法が立法の裁量権に配慮した判断だということをふまえるべきだ。

The current situation makes us freshly aware of the misguided leniency the Supreme Court showed in ruling in 2013 on the constitutionality of the 2012 Lower House election.
改めて甘かったと感じるのが、前々回の12年衆院選をめぐる13年の最高裁判決である。

The top court showed a certain degree of understanding of the Diet’s plan to improve the system without abandoning the method of allocating a seat to each prefecture first. This ruling may have led some high courts to show similar leniency by declaring the election constitutional.
1人別枠方式を実質的に残したやり方に一定の理解を示した点が、今回の高裁で「合憲」まで出る寛容さをうみ出しているのではないか。

What must not be forgotten is the heavy responsibility of the judiciary concerning the problem of inequality in the value of a single vote.
忘れてならないのは、投票価値の不平等に伴う司法の責任の重みだ。

It is not surprising that legislators secretly wish to maintain the system under which they were elected. They are not qualified to represent the interests of voters who are demanding equality in the weight of their votes.
議員が自分を選んだ制度を温存したいのは本音だろうし、平等な一票を求める国民の利益代表にはなりにくい。

This is a value that will continue to be ignored unless the judiciary makes clear its importance.
司法がきっちり言わないと、ないがしろにされがちな価値なのだ。

More high court rulings on the issue are expected to come next month. The courts should make well-reasoned decisions from the viewpoint of the people’s interests.
高裁判決は来月も続く。国民の側に足場を置いて、判断を尽くしてほしい。

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