Veteran DPJ lawmaker Azuma Koshiishi to retire


Azuma Koshiishi, a veteran Upper House lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, has expressed his intention to retire from politics, sources familiar with the situation said Friday.

News of the decision by Upper House Vice President Koshiishi, 79, to quit politics when his term ends is adding to concerns about the party’s prospects in this summer’s Upper House election.

Koshiishi, whose term ends this summer, is following in the footsteps of former DPJ Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, 77, former Upper House President Satsuki Eda, 74, and former industry minister Masayuki Naoshima, 70, all Upper House members who have expressed an intention not to seek re-election.

The moves have left a number of DPJ members worried that the party will lose more seats in the election.

Koshiishi, Kitazawa and Eda represent the Yamanashi, Nagano and Okayama prefectural constituencies, respectively. Naoshima holds a proportional representation seat.

DPJ leader Katsuya Okada told reporters the retirement announcements are regrettable but their decision to hand over their duties to a younger generation needs to be respected.

The candidates that the DPJ fields in their place will face uphill battles against those from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Koshiishi, a key figure among DPJ members in the Upper House, served as the party’s secretary-general, an unprecedented position for an Upper House member, earlier this decade when the party was in power.

The DPJ may find it difficult to select a promising candidate to succeed Koshiishi, who was very popular with local voters, sources said.