Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama died Tuesday afternoon at a Tokyo hospital, ruling Liberal Democratic Party officials said. He was 74.
Kajiyama, who had been undergoing medical treatment since being involved in a traffic accident in January, died at 3:45 p.m., the officials said. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Kajiyama was hospitalized Feb. 19 to undergo surgery to remove a subdural hematoma caused by injuries sustained in the accident, but had reportedly not been recovering well.
A leading figure in the ruling LDP, Kajiyama announced through his family on April 25 that he would not run in the next general election and would retire from politics due to health concerns.
His son, Hiroshi, is set to take over Kajiyama’s political base in Ibaraki Prefecture and run in the June 25 election.
The elder Kajiyama, a native of Ibaraki Prefecture and
graduate of Nihon University, was elected to the House of Representatives nine times beginning in 1969 after serving as an Ibaraki prefectural assemblyman.
He also served as home affairs minister, international trade and industry minister and justice minister during his political career.
He once belonged to a seven-member LDP clique under former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, along with former prime ministers Keizo Obuchi, Ryutaro Hashimoto and Tsutomu Hata, as well as Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa.
Kajiyama served as LDP secretary general when Kiichi Miyazawa, currently finance minister, was prime minister and LDP leader. Kajiyama resigned from the post to take the blame for the LDP’s humiliating defeat in the 1993 general election.
He made a comeback under Hashimoto, who was prime minister from January 1996 to July 1998, assuming the post of chief Cabinet secretary.
Kajiyama, who had been dubbed “deputy shogun” and “a man for very turbulent times,” called for structural reform in Japan after he lost to Obuchi in the July 1998 LDP leadership race. Obuchi died May 14, six weeks after falling into a coma following a stroke.
Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa described Kajiyama as a resourceful and honest politician who was against war.
“He once served in the Imperial Japanese Army but had a firm belief that war must never be waged, and I share his belief,” Miyazawa said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“I depended on him greatly when he was (LDP) secretary general and I was prime minister,” he said. “I trusted him very much.” Miyazawa served as prime minister from 1991 to 1993.
Kajiyama asked Miyazawa for advice before writing an essay on economic reforms, he said.