Yoshito Sengoku, who is said to be the most likely candidate for the next chief Cabinet secretary, gained prominence for his leadership in the early stages of the screening program for wasteful government spending last year when he was then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s administrative reform minister.
A lawyer-turned-politician with expertise in labor issues, the 64-year-old is also known as a critic of Democratic Party of Japan power-fixer Ichiro Ozawa’s “money and politics” problems.
He switched portfolios to national strategy minister earlier this year and has played a key role in drafting the ruling party’s policies for the Upper House election expected to be held in July.
Originally elected as a member of the Social Democratic Party of Japan in 1990, Sengoku is conversant in a wide range of policy areas. He was considered a potential party leader before cancer surgery ended his ambitions in 2002.
Sengoku is also known for his efforts to establish the Consumer Affairs Agency as a DPJ representative while the party was in opposition.
The native of Tokushima Prefecture is popular among younger DPJ politicians as a mentor and a big brother figure.