The Japanese Communist Party said Saturday it will make Yoshiki Yamashita its new secretariat chief, replacing Tadayoshi Ichida as the tiny opposition party's new No. 2.

The decision was made at the end of the party's four-day annual congress in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, with Kazuo Shii, 59, agreeing to stay on as chairman of the Executive Committee.

Yamashita, 53, and Ichida, 71, are both third-term members of the House of Councilors. Ichida will continue to serve as a vice chairman of the Executive Committee.

The JCP said it aims to use the generational change in leadership as a way to bring the younger members into its fold and bolster its strength.