Former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, who wielded enormous influence over Japanese politics long after scandal forced him to resign more than a decade ago, died of respiratory failure at 12:53 a.m. Monday at Kitasato Institute Hospital in Tokyo, his aides said. He was 76.

The death of Takeshita, who announced his retirement from politics last month, comes just weeks after the deaths of two key proteges — Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and past LDP Secretary General Seiroku Kajiyama.

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