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Convicted bribe-taker Muneo Suzuki managed to stage a return Sunday to the Lower House.

He ran in the proportional representation block in Hokkaido with the backing of his newly launched party, New Party Daichi, based in Sapporo.

Suzuki told supporters that his victory “represents a call by people in Hokkaido to change the current politics” under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The 57-year-old Hokkaido native gave up his Lower House seat when he did not run in the previous election in November 2003, citing health reasons. He was first elected to the Diet in 1983.

He left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in March 2002 amid allegations of bribery.

He was arrested in June 2002 on a charge of taking a bribe, but he refused to give up his seat, which he held as an independent.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced him to two years in prison and fined him 11 million yen in November. Suzuki has appealed the ruling.

Tsujimoto comes back

OSAKA (Kyodo) Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a former Social Democratic Party lawmaker convicted of misusing government funds, managed to secure a seat in Sunday’s poll.

While failing to win in the single-seat Osaka No. 10 district, the 45-year-old Tsujimoto gained a House of Representatives seat in the proportional representation sector in the Kinki block, where she topped the SDP’s candidate list.

Tsujimoto was first elected to the Diet in 1996 as an SDP candidate and was re-elected in 2000.

But the former rising star, who had served as SDP policy chief, quit the Lower House in March 2002 after allegations surfaced that she misused government funds intended for her secretaries. She was given a suspended prison term in February 2004.

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