Tokuma Utsunomiya, a former Diet member and advocate of disarmament, died of pneumonia Saturday morning at a hospital in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, his family said. He was 93.
Utsunomiya, a native of Tokyo, is known for founding the monthly magazine Gunshuku Mondai Shiryo (Data for Disarmament Issues) in 1980, using his own funds.
Utsunomiya was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1952 while serving as president of Minophagen Pharmaceutical Co., which he founded.
He joined the Liberal Democratic Party when it was formed in 1955 and was elected to the Lower House 10 consecutive times. He left the party in 1976, angered by its handling of a 1970s payoff scandal involving defense contractor Lockheed Corp. and the abduction of Kim Dae Jung — now president of South Korea — while he was visiting Japan in 1973.
Utsunomiya lost in a 1979 Lower House election but returned to the Diet in 1980 after winning a seat in a House of Councilors election. He retired from politics in 1992.
The maverick politician was often called a “conservative liberal.” Although a member of the conservative LDP, he was also strongly prodisarmament, a position usually associated with the leftwing.
He established the Utsunomiya Disarmament Research Institute, publisher of the monthly magazine, and also headed the Japan-China Friendship Association.
In 1984, Utsunomiya established a group advocating nuclear disarmament that brought together 22 scholars, politicians and commentators.
He was also a founding member of an investigative committee on Kim’s abduction and examined the Japanese government’s culpability in the incident.
Kim, a prominent critic of South Korea’s then-government, was abducted by agents in August 1973 while staying at a Tokyo hotel and was forcibly taken back to South Korea.