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House of Councillors Election: Proportional Representation


This summer, the House of Councillors election will be held. 

There are two types of House of Councillors candidates: the first is the district elections, in which candidates run to represent their prefecture. The second type is the proportional representation elections, where candidates run to represent the entire nation.

Each person casts two votes. The first vote is for a candidate running for House of Councillors within your prefecture, and the second is for a candidate or party running for proportional representation. 


The district elections are self-explanatory; they work almost identically to the House of Representatives (Lower House) elections, except that the candidates run for Councillor of the entire prefecture rather than specific districts. (Tottori・Shimane, Tokushima・Kochi are exceptions: the two prefectures combined make one electoral district)


For the proportional representation system, voters can write either the name of a political party or an individual candidate. This system is slightly more complicated, so I will explain it below. 


Imagine this hypothetical scenario: There are five candidates that the LDP nominated to run for the proportional representation sect of the House of Councillors: Andrew, Blake, Charlotte, Dave, and Emma. 


The voting results for the proportional representation sect are as follows: 


# of Votes 














Adding them all together, the total number of votes for the LDP is 1,050,000.  

These 1,050,000 votes determine the proportion of seats that the LDP will win in the proportional representation sect.

The system works the same way for all other political parties. 


Adding the total number of party name votes and candidate name votes together determines the proportional number of seats that a party claims for the proportional representation sect. 


In equation form: 

# of seats that a party claims for the proportional representation sect =


Let’s say that the LDP won three seats in the proportional representation sect. The three candidates that received the most vote by name are chosen to take the seats. 

From the chart above, we see that Andrew, Blake, and Charlotte will join the House of Councillors. 

As shown above, Japanese people may vote for either a party in general or for a specific party candidate for the proportional representation sect. Although a vote for the party will count toward the number of seats that they claim, it does not count towards choosing which candidate will take the seats that the party wins. 

If one casts their vote for a specific candidate, though, it counts towards both the party’s proportional sect seats and the candidate’s nomination. 

Keep that in mind when voting this summer. 


In the past years, the ratio of party name votes to specific candidate votes has been 7:3, respectively. 

As a result, many people’s votes contribute to the number of seats the party wins in the proportional sect but not to who wins those limited seats. 

There is no issue, per se, of voting for a political party, but I urge you to maximize your vote by choosing a specific candidate to send to the House of Councillors. 

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