Former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita on Thursday decided not to run in the next election and to let his brother and secretary Wataru Takeshita contest his seat instead, Liberal Democratic Party sources said.

According to the sources, Takeshita conveyed his decision to LDP members by telephone and asked them to support his brother in the upcoming election, the date of which remains up in the air.

Wataru Takeshita, 53, graduated from Keio University in 1969. After working at NHK, he joined Fukuda Corp., the largest contractor in Niigata Prefecture, as an auditor in 1985.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Mikio Aoki, a close aide to the elder Takeshita, conveyed the former prime minister’s decision to senior members of former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s LDP faction, the sources said.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party, is eager to secure victory in the constituency because it regards it as one of the most important, DPJ sources said Wednesday.

Takeshita defeated the DPJ’s Atsushi Nishikiori by only 24,000 votes in the last election. Nishikiori is preparing to run again.

Takeshita initially considered having his brother run for the House of Councilors seat occupied by Aoki, and having Aoki leave the Upper House to contest the Shimane No. 2 seat, the LDP sources said.

It was felt that a heavyweight such as Aoki was needed to counter Nishikiori, who has been gathering support in the constituency, the sources said.

But Takeshita finally decided to let his brother succeed him because Aoki is a key figure in Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s administration. To compete for the seat, Aoki probably would have had to resign ahead of the election to focus on campaigning, a move that could have drawn severe criticism.

Takeshita was admitted to a Tokyo hospital in April 1999 after complaining of lower-back pain. He remains hospitalized and has effectively disappeared from public view.