House of Representatives member Toru Okutani of the Liberal Democratic Party died Tuesday of a liver ailment at a hospital in Kobe, his family said. He was 51.
A native of Kobe, Okutani was a secretary to Kenzaburo Hara, a retired Lower House member who once served as speaker, before joining the Hyogo Prefectural Assembly.
He won a seat in the Diet’s Lower House in 1998 under the proportional representation system, replacing Minoru Noda, who lost his seat in a vote-buying scandal.
Okutani was later re-elected. He belonged to the LDP faction led by LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki.
With Okutani’s death, Tomokatsu Kitakawa, 51, a native of Osaka Prefecture, will become a Lower House member, as he is next on the party’s proportional representation list for the Kinki region.