Susumu Nikaido, a former vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party, died at a Tokyo hospital Thursday due to heart failure, his family said. He was 90. Born in Kagoshima Prefecture, Nikaido graduated from the University of Southern California in 1941. He was elected to the Diet’s House of Representatives from the then-Kagoshima No. 3 constituency in the nation’s first general election after World War II, in 1946. He was elected to the chamber 16 consecutive times until he decided to retire from politics by refusing to run in the 1996 general election. Nikaido was a close aide to late former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, who was convicted in the Lockheed payoff scandal of the 1970s, and was famous for saying, “My hobby is Kakuei Tanaka.”Nikaido played a key role in restoring diplomatic ties between Japan and China in 1972. 1984, former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki, in behind-the-scenes cooperation with some opposition leaders, made an unsuccessful attempt to back Nikaido to topple then LDP head and Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. Nikaido served as LDP secretary general from 1981 to 1983 and was the LDP’s vice president from 1984 to 1986. After Noboru Takeshita formed his own group within the Tanaka faction in a revolt against the faction boss in 1985, Nikaido tried to unite pro-Tanaka members.

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