LDP veteran Mitsuzuka dies

Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, a former senior lawmaker from the Liberal Democratic Party and an ex-finance minister, died of illness Sunday at a Tokyo hospital, an LDP executive said. He was 76.

Mitsuzuka served 10 terms after first being elected to the House of Representatives in December 1972 from a constituency in Miyagi Prefecture. Other posts he held include transport minister, international trade and industry minister, foreign minister, LDP Policy Research Council chairman and LDP secretary general.

He did not run in November’s Lower House general election and retired from politics due to health problems.

Mitsuzuka’s health deteriorated in early June after he injured his back, and he had been resting at his home in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

He became head of his own faction of 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 beginning November 1996 in the second Cabinet of then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, but resigned in January 1998 to take responsibility for a corruption scandal.