The Yomiuri Shimbun
Top court urges the Diet to reform lower house electoral system further
衆院選違憲状態 国会に制度改革促した最高裁

While respecting the discretionary power of the legislature, the latest ruling can be seen as the judiciary making as much of a request as it can.
立法府の裁量権を尊重する中で、司法として可能な範囲で注文を付けたということだろう。

The Grand Bench of the Supreme Court handed down a ruling Wednesday that the House of Representatives election in December last year, which had a maximum vote-value disparity of 2.13-to-1 in single-seat constituencies, was in a state of unconstitutionality.
「1票の格差」が最大2・13倍だった昨年12月の衆院小選挙区選について、最高裁大法廷は、違憲状態にあったとの判決を言い渡した。

On the grounds that the current state of vote-value disparity runs counter to the vote-value equality called for by the Constitution, the top court told the Diet, “There is a need [for the Diet] to steadily continue improving the electoral system.”
投票価値の平等という憲法の要請に反しているとして、「選挙制度の整備を着実に続ける必要がある」と国会に求めた。

It also acknowledged that a reasonable amount of time to correct the situation has not yet elapsed. The Diet has to make continued efforts to rectify the vote-value disparity.
格差是正に要する合理的な期間は過ぎていないとも認定した。国会は引き続き是正に努めねばならない。

The law concerning the establishment of the council on rezoning the electoral districts of the lower house stipulates the basic principle that the maximum vote-value disparity should not exceed 2-to-1.
1票の格差について、衆院選挙区画定審議会設置法は「2倍以上にならないことを基本とする」と定めている。

Prior to last year’s poll, the Diet cut the number of lower house seats by five in single-seat constituencies to reduce the disparity to less than 2-to-1. When the election was held, however, the disparity exceeded 2-to-1 in some constituencies, due to demographic change.
昨年の衆院選に先立ち、国会は選挙区定数の「0増5減」で、2倍未満に抑えた。
人口変動で選挙の時点では2倍を上回った。

Yet the top court acknowledged the Diet’s effort, calling it “a certain amount of progress toward realizing the correction.” It is a realistic view that takes into consideration the fact that it requires time to rectify the disparity.
だが、最高裁は、国会の取り組みを「是正実現に向けた一定の前進」と評価した。格差是正には時間がかかることを踏まえた現実的な見解と言えよう。

Imprudent court decisions have become conspicuous in recent years, with some high courts ruling, for instance, that the 2012 lower house election was “unconstitutional” and the results of the election were “invalid.”
2012年の衆院選について、一部の高裁が「違憲・無効」とするなど、近年は行き過ぎた判決も目立っていた。

Self-restraint shown

The top court reiterated its view that “even if the court judges that there is a problem under the Constitution, it cannot establish any specific systems on its own.” This is a reasonable judgment showing the top court has restrained itself in its consideration of the role of the judicature.
最高裁は今回、「裁判所は憲法上問題があると判断したとしても、自ら具体的な制度を定め得るものではない」との考え方を改めて示した。司法の役割を抑制的に捉えた妥当な判断である。

The Supreme Court has been saying the vote-value disparity primarily stems from the current seat-distribution system, which allots one seat to each prefecture and then decides, in proportion to the population, how many additional seats each prefecture should be allocated in the single-seat section of the election.
最高裁は、各都道府県に1議席を割り振ったうえで定数配分する「1人別枠方式」を格差の主因と指摘してきた。

In response, the Diet has already revised a related law to abolish the provision concerning the seat-distribution system.
これを受け、国会は、別枠方式の規定を廃止する関連法改正を既に行っている。

The top court again said in its latest ruling that the vote-value disparity exceeds 2-to-1 due to the fact that the allotment of seats based on the seat-distribution system was kept in place in single-seat constituencies in Tokyo and other prefectures, which were not included in the prefectures where a combined total of five seats were reduced.
今回も、0増5減の対象外だった都道府県で、別枠方式に基づく配分が残存することを、格差が2倍を超えた要因に挙げている。

A research panel of experts tasked with reform of the lower house electoral system is studying the possibility of adopting, in place of the current system, the so-called Adams’ method, which would better reflect the population ratio than the current one. With this method, the vote-value disparity is expected to be held to less than 2-to-1, at least for the time being.
衆院選挙制度改革に関する有識者調査会は、別枠方式に代えて、より人口に比例する「アダムズ方式」の採用を検討している。この方式なら、当面、格差を2倍未満に抑えられるとみられる。

The discussion concerning the reduction of the overall number of lower house seats is worrying. Takeshi Sasaki, chairman of the research panel, has said that in light of the fact that political parties are calling for reducing lower house seats in their public pledges and otherwise, we “cannot ignore political promises.”
気がかりなのは、定数削減の議論だ。調査会の佐々木毅座長は、各党が公約などで定数削減を唱えていることを踏まえ、「政治的な約束を無視できない」と語る。

Should the overall number of lower house seats be reduced, however, it would become more difficult for diverse public opinions to be reflected in the election.
だが、定数を減らせば、選挙で多様な民意を反映しにくくなる。

It may also scale down the Diet’s primary functions of making laws and overseeing the administration through the deliberation of bills.
法律を作り、法案審議を通じて行政を監視するという国会本来の機能も低下しかねない。

When looking at the number of seats compared to the population, the number of Diet members is not as large as in European countries.
人口比でみれば、日本の国会議員は欧州諸国などより多くはない。

The research panel may also need to seriously consider the negative aspects of reducing the number of seats.
調査会は、定数削減の負の面も真剣に考慮すべきではないか。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 26, 2015)

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