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Teen Voters and Politics in JapanSatō Shin

This July, in the first national election since the lowering of the voting age, young people seemed to endorse the status quo. But voting is not the only form of political activity. Adult voters should reconsider their own approach to politics.

Timeline for July 2016

The House of Councillors election is held, Emperor Akihito reportedly expresses a wish to abdicate, and cultural phenomenon Pokémon Go is launched in Japan. These are the leading news stories of July 2016.

Landslide Victory for LDP in 2016 Upper House Election

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Kōmeitō won comfortably in the House of Councillors election on July 10, 2016. The LDP nonetheless ended one seat short of its first simple majority in 27 years.

Timeline for June 2016

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō postpones the consumption tax hike, Tokyo Governor Masuzoe Yōichi resigns, and campaigning begins for the House of Councillors election. Look back at the main stories of June 2016.

Party Leaders Debate Ahead of July 2016 House of Councillors Election

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and other Japanese party leaders took part in a debate on June 21, 2016. The Constitution, the economy, and other key issues are likely to dominate discussion during campaigning for the July 10 House of Councillors election.

The Sloppy and Unconstitutional Revision of the Public Offices Election LawKatayama Yoshihiro

The Diet recently revised the Public Offices Election Law to reduce the vote disparity in upper house districts, merging two pairs of prefectures into single districts. Katayama Yoshihiro, former governor of Tottori, one of the affected prefectures, calls the revision rough and heavy-handed and suggests that it may be unconstitutional.

LDP Rebel Stands Firm on Addressing Vote Disparity

In July 2015, an amendment was passed to the Public Offices Election Act to reform the House of Councillors electoral system, which the Supreme Court has ruled as being in a “state of unconstitutionality” due to vote disparity. The compromise agreement still leaves significant regional disparities in the weight of one vote, however, prompting Waki Masashi to leave the LDP parliamentary group in protest. Nippon.com interviews the reform-minded upper house legislator.

Weighing Vote Disparity in Japan’s Upper HouseTakenaka Harukata

The House of Councillors has been criticized for being too powerful, undermining the policymaking efforts of the cabinet in a divided government and making Japan’s parliamentary democracy dysfunctional. It has also failed to heed the Supreme Court’s warnings to fundamentally rectify voting-power disparities between electoral districts. As a result, some are now beginning to question the legitimacy of the upper house.

The Case for Equal Representation in the Upper HouseTadano Masahito

The Japanese high court has recently taken a strong stance on the need to rectify geographical disparities in the “value of a vote,” not only in the House of Representatives but also in the House of Councillors, the National Diet’s second chamber. Constitutional scholar Tadano Masahito examines the issue in the larger context of bicameralism and the unique powers of Japan’s upper house.

Clock Ticking Down on Upper House ReformTsuchiya Hideo

The House of Councillors is currently in a state of unconstitutionality, and unless sweeping reforms are enacted quickly, next summer’s election will no doubt be judged to be unconstitutional.

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