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Ex-Foreign Minister Zentaro Kosaka dies

Zentaro Kosaka, a conservative politician who worked for normalization of diplomatic relations with China and promoted rapprochement with the Soviet Union during the Cold War era, died of renal failure at his home in Tokyo’s Ota Ward on Sunday afternoon, his family said. He was 88.

Kosaka, who hailed from Nagano Prefecture, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1946. His grandfather Zennosuke, founder of the daily Shinano Mainichi, and his father Junzo were also politicians. His younger brother Tokusaburo was also an influential Liberal Democrat.

A mainstream conservative with ties to postwar Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, Kosaka served as labor minister in the Yoshida Cabinet, foreign minister under Prime Ministers Hayato Ikeda and Takeo Miki, and Economic Planning Agency chief under Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.

During a controversy over descriptions of Japan’s wartime activities in history textbooks in 1982, Kosaka urged his fellow lawmakers within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to listen to the opinions of Japan’s Asian neighbors.

Kosaka, after graduating from the Tokyo University of Commerce, the predecessor of Hitotsubashi University, worked for Mitsubishi Bank and then Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., which was founded by his father. He later went on to politics.

He received the U.N. peace prize in 1982. He was elected from a Nagano district to the Lower House 16 times before he retired from politics in 1990.

A date for funeral services is yet to be set, according to relatives.