Kajiyama, Ishida to retire from politics

Another of the old guard in politics, Seiroku Kajiyama, a former chief Cabinet secretary who once held strong influence within the Liberal Democratic Party, plans to retire from politics, according to his office.

Kajiyama’s eldest son, Hiroshi Kajiyama, 44, told a news conference in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, that the 74-year-old veteran LDP lawmaker will not run in the next general election. The son is widely expected to run for the Ibaraki No. 4 constituency, currently held by his father.

Kajiyama, who has been elected to the Lower House nine times, is in a Tokyo hospital due to complications from a January traffic accident. He later underwent surgery for a subdural hematoma, and has not recovered from the illness, the son said.

He made the retirement decision after consulting his family last week.

Kajiyama’s exit comes at a time when former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita is reportedly considering his own retirement due to ailing health.

Kajiyama exerted powerful influence as chief Cabinet secretary under the administration of Ryutaro Hashimoto from 1996 to 1997.

He was one of the key members of the LDP’s largest faction founded by Takeshita and taken over by former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.

But he left the faction in July 1998 when he competed with Obuchi for the post of LDP president, which was made vacant after Hashimoto resigned over the party’s heavy losses in the Upper House election.

Kajiyama remained on the outskirts of the LDP after Obuchi defeated him. Meanwhile, Koshiro Ishida, former head of Komeito, the predecessor of New Komeito, announced the same day that he will not run in the next Lower House election and will retire from politics.

Ishida, 69, a senior member of New Komeito elected to one of the party’s proportional representation seats in the Tokai bloc, will formally announce the decision Thursday, party sources said.

New Komeito’s leaders, led by Takenori Kanzaki, are scheduled to meet Thursday to decide who will run for the party in the upcoming election. Ishida’s decision was made to give younger candidates a chance and because of poor health, according to the sources.

Ishida was first elected from an electoral district in Aichi Prefecture in 1967. He is currently serving his ninth term.

He served as a youth leader of Soka Gakkai, Japan’s largest lay Buddhist group. The Soka Gakkai, which claims to have 8 million members, was the main backer of Komeito and extends similar support to New Komeito, which joined the LDP-led ruling alliance in October. Ishida served as Komeito chairman between 1989 and 1994 and played a key role in the LDP’s humiliating defeat in the 1993 general election, which briefly removed that party from power.

He served as Management and Coordination Agency chief in coalition governments led by Morihiro Hosokawa and Tsutomu Hata in 1993 and 1994. He also served as deputy chief of the now-defunct Shinshinto, led by Ichiro Ozawa, now Liberal Party leader, when Komeito disbanded and joined in Shinshinto’s foundation in December 1994.