Masahisa Aoki, a former director general of the Environment Agency who turned to politics after a career in newspapers, died Monday of a heart attack at a hospital in Saitama Prefecture, his family said. He was 78.

A native of Saitama Prefecture, Aoki went to work at the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper after graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1947.

He served as the paper’s chief political news editor and later as managing editor before winning a seat in the House of Representatives as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Aoki headed the Environment Agency from December 1988 to June 1989 in the Noburo Takeshita Cabinet.

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