Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday it is desirable that the next House of Representatives election be held after implementing proposed electoral system reform aimed at addressing vote weight disparities between constituencies in urban and rural areas. “It is important that such reform be reflected firmly when the next election is held,” Abe said at the lower house Budget Committee. Abe made the comment amid speculation that he may dissolve the lower house for a snap general election to coincide with a House of Councillors election this summer in what would be a “double election.” However, the premier has not ruled out the possibility of dissolving the lower chamber before the proposed reform takes effect.
The reform plan, compiled by a panel of experts, calls for cutting the number of seats in the lower house by 10 to 465, with the number of seats in urban electoral districts rising and that in rural districts falling.
While some lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party expressed cautious views about cutting the number of lower house members, Abe said he “respects” the plan and that he “will make a decision after holding discussions in the LDP.”
But Abe also said that the issue should be discussed carefully because it could make it difficult for voters in some regions to make their voices heard at the Diet through cuts in the number of their “precious representatives.”