Tetsuzo Fuwa, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party’s Central Committee, said Friday he will not run in the next general election of the House of Representatives, bringing an end to a Diet career that has spanned more than three decades.

Fuwa, 73, said he will remain at the helm of the Central Committee at least until the next general party convention, scheduled for November.

“The choice of the next committee chairman is up to the general convention,” he said. “It’s not something I should comment on.”

Fuwa was elected to the Lower House from the proportional representation bloc for Tokyo, but his name was not on a candidate list released Friday in the lead up to the next election.

Fuwa, whose real name is Kenjiro Ueda, joined the party while he was in high school and started working at its headquarters in 1964.

After being elected to the Lower House in 1969, he became head of the party’s secretariat in 1970 and chairman of the Executive Committee in 1982.

He has maintained a firm grip over the party since 1997, when Kenji Miyamoto retired as chairman of the Central Committee.

Fuwa adopted so-called soft-line policies, expressing approval of the postwar Imperial system and the use of the Self-Defense Forces in rescue activities after natural disasters. Such policy shifts apparently helped the JCP strengthen the number of seats it held in municipal assemblies and the Upper House during the 1990s.

He said he plans to focus on diplomacy and political theory.

Fuwa said his retirement from the Diet is in line with a policy that he revealed during the last party convention in 2000, when he announced that longtime follower Kazuo Shii had become chairman of the Executive Committee. Shii represents the party as far as national politics is concerned, he said.

“Fuwa” is a well-known pen name that means “never to be broken.” Fuwa’s elder brother is Koichiro Ueda, an Executive Committee vice chairman and former Upper House member.

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