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Okayama court rules Japan's July election vote gap constitutional

This file photo taken in October 2018 shows the Japanese parliament building in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

OKAYAMA, Japan (Kyodo) -- A Japanese court ruled Thursday the July upper house election was constitutional, joining other courts that have recently permitted a gap of up to 3.00 times in the weight of a single vote between the most and least populated constituencies.

The Okayama branch of the Hiroshima High Court rejected calls by plaintiffs in Okayama Prefecture to nullify the results of the July 21 House of Councillors election over inequality in the value of a vote.

The ruling was the eighth handed down in a series of lawsuits filed by two groups of lawyers with 14 high courts and their branches.

Five earlier court rulings similarly found it constitutional, while two said it was in a "state of unconstitutionality" but stopped short of nullifying the outcome.

The latest vote value disparity of 3.00 was slightly down from 3.08 seen in the previous upper house election in 2016 as Japan added six seats to the chamber and redrew constituencies in an election law revision last year.

In the July election, Miyagi had the largest number of voters per seat, while Fukui Prefecture had the fewest. In Okayama, the vote weight disparity was 2.44.

Before the 2016 election, the vote value gap had been even higher, hovering around 5 times. In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled the disparity in the upper house contest the previous year to be constitutional, recognizing the parliament's efforts to narrow the gap by integrating constituencies.

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