後見と選挙権 違憲判決が制度の甘さ突いた

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 18, 2013)
Guardian system must not interfere with right to vote
後見と選挙権 違憲判決が制度の甘さ突いた(3月17日付・読売社説)

The Tokyo District Court has ruled unconstitutional a provision in the Public Offices Election Law that denies the right to vote to adults who live under the statutory adult guardianship system.

The court ruling highly evaluates the rights of people with mental disorders or intellectual disabilities.

The plaintiff in the suit was an intellectually challenged woman.

Immediately after a family court chose the father of the adult woman as her guardian in 2007, she was deprived of the right to vote.

The adult guardianship system is designed to allow those who are considered incapable of making judgments to have someone act on their behalf to manage property, make contracts and carry out other procedures.

The Public Offices Election Law does not allow people to whom this system applies the right to vote in national and local elections.


Unjustifiable denial

The court decision on Thursday acknowledged that the woman had the right to vote on the grounds that depriving her of this right as guaranteed by the Constitution “must be limited to extremely exceptional circumstances.”

The ruling also noted: “What the family court decided concerned her ability to administer her property by herself, and not her competency in exercising her right to vote.

“A large number of people probably are capable of exercising their right to vote even if they are unable to manage their assets.”

It is not surprising that the court ruled the law’s provision null and void, as it uniformly restricts voting rights by using two systems intended to serve different purposes.

Denying disabled people the right to vote merely because they have been placed under the adult guardianship system should also be deemed problematic from the viewpoint of ensuring public equity.

Before being deprived of her right to vote, the plaintiff voted in almost all elections. In addition, she is able to read and write simple kanji characters. The district court probably gave a great deal of thought to these facts in handing down the ruling.

The court ruling, however, should not be taken as a blanket denial of restrictions on voting rights in all circumstances.

The ruling said the restrictions on voting rights for people who lack the competence to exercise the right to vote is not unreasonable.

While this country uniformly deprives the vote to right to people under the adult guardianship system, the United States and Europe are heading in the opposite direction.

Japan’s adult guardianship system, which was introduced in 2000, is aimed at protecting the rights of the disabled and the elderly with insufficient capacities to make judgments.

The system of incompetency that was abolished in 2000 under the civil law also covered those with reckless spending habits, who were excluded from the list of people covered by the adult guardianship system.

In light of this, the Public Offices Election Law’s provision to remove the right to vote from people with guardians does not fit in with the spirit of the system.

There are more than 130,000 adult wards with court-designated guardians across the country.


Applications rising

Because of the rapid graying of society, applications to use the guardianship system number more than 20,000 annually. The court ruling is expected to have various repercussions on how the guardianship system is conducted from now on.

When the system was introduced, the then Home Affairs Ministry asserted that depriving people with guardians of their right to vote was intended to prevent voting irregularities.

Didn’t the ministry overestimate the possibility of voting irregularities concerning the exercise, under the guardianship system, of the right to vote, which is the essence of parliamentary democracy?

The court’s ruling should be thought of as a warning from the judiciary regarding the slipshod design of the adult guardianship system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 17, 2013)
(2013年3月17日01時25分 読売新聞)


srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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