Upper House’s Saito to retire in ’04

Kyodo

Juro Saito, former president of the House of Councilors, said Sunday he will retire from politics to “open the way for younger people” when his Upper House term expires next year.

Saito, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, made the announcement in his constituency in Mie Prefecture, saying he will not run in the upcoming Upper House election next summer.

The 63-year-old Saito, in his sixth term, is longest-serving active Upper House member. He said a candidate to succeed him will be chosen after holding consultations with lawmakers from Mie Prefecture and his local support group.

Saito was health minister from July 1986 to November 1987 in the third Cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, and he became Upper House president in August 1995.

He stepped down as Upper House president in October 2000 after failing to mediate between the ruling and opposition parties over the introduction of a system for Upper House proportional representation elections.