• Kyodo

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The mayor of the village of Kurokawa, Niigata Prefecture, resigned Monday due to deteriorating health, having served for nearly 48 years, municipal officials said.

Kojiro Ito, 79, won 12 consecutive four-year terms, making him the most frequently elected person to serve in a gubernatorial or mayoral position in the nation’s history.

Ito, who was first elected mayor of the village in October 1955, entered a hospital in April and underwent gallbladder inflammation surgery.

Although he was discharged May 18 and returned to his duties, he is still receiving medical treatment, they said.

Appearing before a village assembly session on Monday, Ito apologized for “causing trouble” to the village administration with his extended absence.

“The local community needs a new player,” he said as he sought the assembly’s approval of his resignation.

His 12th term was due to expire Oct. 8. Since 1988, Ito has served as head of the association of municipalities in Niigata Prefecture. From 1993 to 1995, he served as vice chairman of a nationwide association of town and village governments.

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