Etsuya Washio, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, said Monday he will retire when his term expires in October.

Washio, the 62-year-old head of Rengo, the nation’s largest labor organization, told a news conference in Tokyo that it is better to transfer power to a new head because long-serving leaders “become conservative.”

His retirement will be officially decided at a convention of the 7.61-million-member group scheduled for October after being approved by a Rengo panel on recommendation of executives later this month. Kiyoshi Sasamori, 60, head of Rengo’s secretariat, is expected to succeed Washio.

Washio, who began working at the now-defunct Yawata Iron & Steel Co. in 1963, was elected Rengo president in October 1997 after serving as chairman of the National Federation of Iron and Steel Workers’ Unions and as head of Rengo’s secretariat. He is currently serving his second term.

Yawata Steel was merged into Nippon Steel Corp. in 1970.

Washio played a leading role in swinging Rengo’s support behind the Democratic Party of Japan, the main opposition party.

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