Koizumi confirms plan to retire, pass torch to son

Kyodo

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Saturday formally announced his intention to retire from politics and said he will not run in the next House of Representatives election.

Koizumi, 66, also named his second son and secretary, 27-year-old Shinjiro Koizumi, as his heir apparent to the Kanagawa No. 11 district.

“I believe I have served out my role as a Diet member by carrying out the grave responsibilities of a prime minister,” Koizumi said before a crowd of supporters at a meeting in his home district of Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Speaking about his son, he said: “I might be called a silly parent, but I think he is more reliable than I was when I was 27 years old. I would appreciate it greatly if you could provide Shinjiro with your generous support.”

Taking the podium from his father, the younger Koizumi declared that he will run in the next Lower House election from Yokosuka and Miura, his father’s constituency.

“I will do my best so I can become a politician who can allow to have high hopes about politics. I would like to ask you for your continued support,” he said.

Shinjiro Koizumi has been working in his father’s office as a secretary since June last year, following graduate studies at Columbia University in New York and a job at a think tank in Washington.

New Prime Minister Taro Aso is seeking to dissolve the lower chamber at an early date to call a snap general election.

Although he is retiring as a lawmaker, Koizumi said he plans to continue being active in “political activities,” which he said would include using his advisory post at a think tank specializing in international affairs.

He said he wants to focus his energy on two policy areas — environmental protection and economic development and food safety.

As for his timing, Koizumi said he’d been waiting to do this for a long time.

“After finishing my tenure as prime minister, frankly speaking, I also wanted to quit as a lawmaker immediately afterward . . . but I thought it might be problematic if I quit without serving out my term.”

Koizumi, serving his 12th term, was first elected to the Lower House in 1972 and was subsequently re-elected 11 times. Besides prime minister, he also served as the health minister and posts and telecommunications minister.