National

Former Lower House speaker Hajime Tamura dies at 90

Kyodo

Hajime Tamura, a former speaker of the Lower House and a powerful member of the Liberal Democratic Party, has died, his family said Tuesday. He was 90.

First elected to the Lower House in 1955 from a district in Mie Prefecture, Tamura won 14 straight elections. He served in such posts as labor minister, transport minister and trade minister, and was the speaker of the Lower House from June 1989 to January 1990.

During his spells as labor and transport minister in the 1970s, he worked to introduce the five-day workweek and to establish an international airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture.

Tamura, nicknamed the “wheeler-dealer,” was a key figure in political maneuvering to field a candidate against Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone ahead of the LDP’s presidential election in 1984.

He visited North Korea as the head of a Diet delegation and held talks with the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, in 1975.

Tamura did not seek re-election in 1996 and retired from politics, passing the baton to his nephew, Norihisa Tamura, a former health, labor and welfare minister.

He died on Sunday, his family said, citing natural causes.