LDP bigwig Tsushima retiring

AOMORI (Kyodo) Yuji Tsushima, leader of a key faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said Sunday he will not seek re-election in the general election.

The 79-year-old former health minister announced in his home district in Aomori that he is retiring from politics.

Tsushima would have faced a tough campaign in his home district in Aomori Prefecture thanks to the low popularity of Prime Minister Taro Aso, a senior LDP official said.

“As a faction leader, he should be campaigning for the election,” another top LDP official said. “But he chose to retire instead of losing his seat, which would have tainted his later years.”

Tsushima, a former senior Finance Ministry official who chairs the LDP’s Research Commission on the Tax System, has been elected 11 times to the Lower House starting in 1976.

He has headed the Tsushima faction since November 2005. His wife is a daughter of the late novelist Osamu Dazai.