Koken Nosaka, a former Social Democratic Party lawmaker who served as chief Cabinet secretary in 1995 and 1996, died Sunday of kidney failure at a hospital in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, his family said. He was 79.
Nosaka took the Cabinet post under then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who as SDP chief led a ruling bloc with its longtime archrival, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the now-defunct New Party Sakigake.
Nosaka also served as construction minister under the Murayama administration.
A native of Tottori Prefecture, Nosaka was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1972 after serving as a Tottori Prefectural assemblyman.
He served seven terms in the Lower House until retiring from politics in 1996.
Murayama, who has also retired from politics, expressed regret over Nosaka’s death, saying he played a key role when the SDP formed a coalition with its longtime foe the LDP to launch his administration in June 1994.
Recalling how he began his Diet career at the same time as Nosaka, Murayama said, “We were around the same age and our seats were next to each other in the Diet. He was my close friend and a good man. I will miss him.”
Lower House Speaker Yohei Kono also said Nosaka was the main player in building the LDP-SDP coalition. Kono was LDP president at the time.
“When I was LDP chief, Mr. Nosaka was the only contact in the SDP that we could rely on,” he said.