Yoshito Sengoku, who served as the top government spokesman and an administrative reform minister when the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan was in power, died of lung cancer last week, the Lower House secretariat said Tuesday. He was 72.

Sengoku concurrently served as the minister in charge of national strategy in the Cabinet of Yukio Hatoyama after the DPJ took power from the Liberal Democratic Party in 2009.

Sengoku, who died at his home in Tokyo on Thursday, worked as a lawyer before entering politics, with a focus on labor issues.

He stepped down as the chief Cabinet secretary in early 2011 after a censure motion against him was passed in late 2010 for his handling of a collision between a Chinese fishing boat and two Japanese patrol boats near the Japan-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The islets are known as Diaoyu in China.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, Sengoku was appointed as a deputy chief Cabinet secretary to spearhead the government's disaster relief measures.

A native of Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku island, Sengoku was first elected to the Diet in 1990. He was elected to the House of Representatives six times before retiring from politics in 2014.