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Ex-Finance Minister Mitsuzuka to retire from politics.

SENDAI, Aug. 11 Kyodo

Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, a senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and a former finance minister, announced Monday he will not run in the next House of Representatives election and will retire from politics due to health reasons.

Mitsuzuka, representing Miyagi Prefecture's No. 3 constituency, attended an executive meeting of his supporters' group and the LDP's election branch in Iwanuma, Miyagi, and a supporter read out a statement from the 76-year-old lawmaker that said, ''I have decided not to run due to health reasons.''

Mitsuzuka is serving his 10th term since first being elected to the lower house in December 1972. He served in posts including transport minister, international trade and industry minister, foreign minister, LDP Policy Research Council chairman and LDP secretary general.

The current four-year term in the lower house ends next June, but it is likely to be cut short if Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolves the house for a general election, widely expected to happen in the fall.

Mitsuzuka's health deteriorated in early June after he injured his back and he has been resting in his residence in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward and other places.

Mitsuzuka became the head of his own faction in the LDP in 1991, taking over the faction of former Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe upon Abe's death. In the same year, he ran for LDP president but lost to former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.

He was finance minister from November 1996 in the second cabinet of then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto but resigned in January 1998 to take responsibility for a corruption scandal within the ministry.

Opposition parties are eyeing the constituency in the next election. Koji Takahashi, 52, of the Japanese Communist Party has already announced his intention to run. The Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Party, which have recently agreed to merge, are planning to cooperate and field a candidate.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Aug 18, 2003
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