Tsutomu Kawara, a past director general of the former Defense Agency, died Sunday of pneumonia at a hospital in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture. He was 75.
A native of Ishikawa, Kawara took charge of the agency in 1987. He stepped down the following year after a Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine was involved in a fatal collision with a fishing boat.
After serving as construction minister for about a year from 1997, he was reappointed Defense Agency chief in 1999. The agency was upgraded to a ministry in 2007.
Kawara was first elected to the Lower House in 1972 and served 12 terms as a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker.
In 2009, he received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of his public service.