OMUTA, Fukuoka Pref. — For decades, voters in the Fukuoka No. 7 district, which encompasses the southern part of the prefecture, have always said, "Makoto ni arigato gozaimasu" come election time.

This phrase, normally translated along the lines of "I offer my sincere thanks," has always had another meaning among voters here.

In their case, it means "Thanks to Makoto," an expression of gratitude to Makoto Koga, one of the most powerful politicians of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.